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Beware $1.7m OZ Skype Scam, Minister Warns

By Oonagh Reidy | Friday | 04/11/2011

A new scam using VoIP Skype service is conning Australians out of millions, NSW Minister for Fair Trading has warned. The elaborate scam, which involves offshore telemarketers posing as reps from a fake organisation called Australian Electricity Commission, who are pushing energy saving devices and threatening to cut off householder power within 3 days, if a purchase is not forthcoming.

Click to enlarge
The 'energy saving' device promises to save 40 percent on bills. 8000 of the devices are already believed to have been sold.

The phone calls are conducted via internet calling service Skype and recipients are told they were 'selected' to have the device installed and will be reimbursed the $219 asking fee, according to AAP.

NSW Fair Trading Minister, Anthony Roberts, says the fraudsters have conned a phenomenal $1.7 million out of Australians, so far.

The NSW Fair Trading office was not returning calls this afternoon.

The scam is thought to have started out in Melbourne.

Roberts warned of other phone scams in August last, saying over 2,111 cases has been reported in the Jan-Aug period by his office.

"What we are seeing is the combined threat of increasingly sophisticated scams, increasingly pushy scammers and increasing frequency of calls," he said.

"Be scam smart. Hang up, call Fair Trading on 13 32 20 and warn others."

And just this week, the Minister said travelling con men were reported in Albury and Lavington selling stereo equipment, plasma televisions and sound systems.

"Van traders are mobile scammers looking to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers," he warned.

"Buying electronic goods out of the back of a van is asking for trouble. As tempting as the sales pitch may be, as authentic as the product may appear, a scam in a van is a scam."

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