Warning about a scam targeting businesses in Australia

I thought you might be interested in hearing about a scam happening in Australia by a Melbourne person that is well known to the courts. The scam appears to have been operating since at least 2009 and has been under the radar of the authorities.

The scam works like this:

  1. A company is set up using a PO box and a 1300 number for contact.
  2. The company advertises online through tendering websites for various suppliers (Typically engineers, tradespeople, printing services, auditors, and many others) to provide their services for new building and resort developments.
  3. When suppliers respond to the advertisement, they are required to pay a “refundable” $200 (it may vary) to obtain the tender documents. This could be a very large number of people.
  4. No one wins the work as there is no work.
  5. No $200 payments are refunded.
  6. The company becomes uncontactable and a new one opens.

Charging a refundable deposit to receive tender documentation is unusual in Australia but common in a number of other countries. If you are asked to pay a deposit, we strongly recommend that you obtain and verify their business address before wasting time preparing tender submissions.

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Author: Simon Walker

Simon established Connley Walker Pty Ltd in 1996. He is a Fellow of Engineers Australia, a Registered Building Practitioner, a Member of the Australian Institute of Project Management, a Registered International Professional Engineer, a Registered APEC Engineer, and an SCEC Endorsed Security Zone Consultant. He is the author of the books Operational risk management: Controlling opportunities and threats, 2001 ISBN 0957907400 and Hospital and Health Care Security in Australia, 2009 ISBN 978-0-9579074-1-6.