I'm not sure how long it takes Google to list and link my blog posts up to various topics so I'm doing my best in informing any potential buyers that AA Trans is a shipping container scam and do not under any circumstances, pay this swindler for shipping containers. It is a scam of evolving identities and this same fraudster keeps altering his/her identity slightly before going on ebay and online sale sites again to sell this fraud.
How do I know? I know someone who is a victim of this scam and it serves to remind me and everyone else to be wary when transacting your shopping online. I've researched into this scam and have discovered a few things. There are a few issues involved here:
1) Identity theft of Andrew Avis from the legitimate AA Transport Pty Ltd business by fraudster/scam artist "Alex Anderson" (highly likely a faked name). He stole Andrew Avis' company name and ABN number to document his invoice. Address theft by using a fake address 44 Botany Road. However a quick Google (map & streetview) and a phone call from me confirms that the business at that address is Community Broadcasting Association of Australia and they have nothing to do with shipping containers.
2) The scam artist has a bank account with Bank of Queensland (BOQ) (bsb: 124 036, account: 21472696) - do NOT under any circumstances, deposit your payment into this account because you will be scammed. I contacted BOQ yesterday and Sharon at their WA/Perth call centre said that it wasn't any of their business to deal with third parties (myself) and that they can't do anything about it. This is why fraudsters/scammers continue to proliferate. If banks such as the BOQ can't be pro-active in tackling the first mention of scam involvement then these scammers can keep conning many victims until the police can get their act together and interfere- this may take a long time since they have so many cases on hand.
Beware because it appears that this shipping container fraudster has been operating a string of frauds along the exact same line since last year. And no-one has stopped them yet! The same things occur again and again based on my investigation of the latest scam.
3)The domain http://aatrans.net/ was registered only on 7th July this year. So only 1 month ago. You can check it up yourself on a popular IT domain search site whois.com.au
A website so newly registered should scream out beware.
4)This "http://aatrans.net/" scam appears to be the third shipping container scam devised by the same person/group who scammed over 90 people last year and this year with "freight.forward" , "vicremovals - http://www.vicremovals.com and now aatrans.net scam.
Unfortunately for the person I know, they have already transferred funds to the BOQ account and that $2,500 is most likely a write off. If you have found yourself the victim of a scam, the steps you should take to sort out the mess and try to recover your funds will be:
1)If you paid by paypal or credit card, then you can dispute the transaction with paypal or your bank and request a chargeback
2)If you paid by direct deposit or cash then it's highly likely that you have unfortunately lost your money and the avenue of refund is very minimal
3)Contact your bank ASAP regardless of whatever means you used to pay the transaction or dodgy invoice
4)Contact your local police and report the theft/crime/fraud/scam
5)Contact the government agencies ASIC and ACCC to report the fraud/scam so that they can start investigations
To read further materials on how to spot and identify scams you can visit the following sites:
*http://www.scamwatch.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/693900Some basic checkups that you can do yourself before you pay anyone when shopping online is:
1)Check their selling history or lack of history
*A product is advertised at a very low price.
*The seller and any initial bidders have a very poor rating on an auction site.
*The other party wants to complete the sale outside of the auction site (if you do this, you lose any protections that the site operator offer to their users).
*The other party insists on immediate payment, or payment by electronic funds transfer or a wire service.
*The online shopping website does not provide adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, dispute resolution or contact details.
3)If they issue you an invoice, do a thorough search on government databases(eg: ASIC) on the company name, who it is registered to, whether the address matches the company name, check Google map/streetview to give you a better idea (warning flags if you are buying from a shop yet the Google map/streetview points you at a residential house that looks nothing like a shop!)
4)Google the business and check whitepages/yellow pages registrations and call the number on those listings to verify
5)Check their domain on http://www.whois.com.au/ and if it has been newly registered then that may also be a warning sign
6)You can also check their IP Address with http://ip-lookup.net/(this can be found by looking at where emails originated from). For example, an email that I received from Amicroe Pty Ltd had the following IP numbers "22.214.171.124" and when searched it came back with the right match which you can see here http://ip-lookup.net/index.php?ip=126.96.36.199
7)Be careful when you are buying from a company that is supposed to be local, however after your research, you see that the domains/IP Addresses are registered in some foreign countries
8)Check that the ABN is valid and still active and matches the company name. You can do this with ASIC -http://www.search.asic.gov.au/gns001.html
9)Ask yourself if the claims made about the product are reasonable or just too good to be true. Be suspicious of online shopping websites that do not give their full contact details (physical or street address as well as phone and fax numbers).
10)Be very careful about paying by credit card and make sure the website used for payments is secure. Look for an unbroken key or lock at the bottom(this can also be at the top) of the browser window, or a web address beginning with ‘https//:’
11)Be wary when the person or company that you're transacting with has a sense of urgency about them when they try to get you to pay. This 'AA Trans' scam fellow used the following words to invoke a sense of urgency "I only have a few spots left this week so I'm really running out of time" - yep he was definitely running out of time...time to collect the funds and hurry off to the next scam victim before someone catches wind of the scam and the police is on their trail
Anyway, I hope that my recap of my investigations may shed light on how you can also investigate a business, person or transaction before you deal with them to verify that it is indeed, authentic and that you are not being scammed. Unfortunately for the poor victims swindled, it was painful for them to actually drive out to 44 Botany Road, Alexandria in search of their undelivered shipping containers only to discover that there is no shipping container site. It is infact the site of office buildings and takeaway food shops and urban development.
It is too late to regret after you've been scammed. All you can hope for is to protect yourself against future scams.
[Edit 12/05/12: The shipping container scammer appears to be making the rounds in the United Kingdom and London this time around- pls visit this post and have a read so that you don't get scammed: http://smartmoneyguide.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/united-kingdom-beware-of-shipping.html ]