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.

Firstly, when there is no screening at the entry to the airport, only travellers are screened, visitors are not. Anyone can enter the airport with a weapon or explosive device and mix with the crowds of people in arrivals, departures or in the busy retail areas. The area of biggest risk in an Australian airport is a terrorist attack in an area where large numbers of people gather and this is most likely in the departures hall. The recent advice of the Australian Government to arrive early at the airport has significantly increased the attractiveness of this area to terrorists as the number of people present at any time has greatly increased. In 2011 suicide bombers attacked Domodedovo International Airport near Moscow that resulted in 37 deaths and 173 injuries. At the time, they were not screening visitors to the airport, now they are.

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.