A Weber barbecue scam that has cost consumers tens of thousands of dollars has been smashed by Queensland Police.
Run by a pair of Latvian nationals 27-year-old Nastasija Steinke and 25-year-old Aleksandr Torikumis, police now believe that the couple were running a strung of dodgy web sites soliciting Australians to order barbecues, outdoor furniture and appliances, the only problem was that goods never arrived.
Cyber and Identity Crime Unit police recently shut down three scam sites, www.barbecuecity.com.au, www.gardenoutdoorsales.com.au and www.topmarineoutboard.com.au.
Detectives from the Financial and Cyber Crime Group are investigating possible links between more than two dozen websites, it is understood police do not believe the Latvian pair is directly behind the new sites, but police are investigating whether the new sites are linked to 27 separate sites that allegedly scammed more than 200 people across Australia out of a quarter of a million dollars.
Anyone who fell victim to them should report the incident online at the ACORN cyber-reporting portal.
Detectives believe that more than 200 people across Australia were scammed out of a quarter of a million dollars.
Kerry Satchwell thought she was saving a few hundred dollars on a Weber barbecue she bought her son for his birthday.
Instead, when the 59-year-old logged on last week to find the website had disappeared, shut down by Queensland police, she realised she had been scammed out of $361.
“I sort of prided myself in being very diligent about this sort of thing but my goodness they were professional,” she said.
“Everything just went along so beautifully in terms of feedback and it had a very slick site that replicated legitimate sites she told Fairfax Media.
“So yes, for the first time in my internet history I’ve been done over.”
Detective Acting Inspector Brad Hallett said police had received complaints through ACORN and in person, but would not reveal how many people had been scammed by the new websites.
“If it’s too good to be true, don’t do it, or at least analyse it closely,” he said.
“The websites appeared very legitimate.”