Police warn of ‘grey nomads scam’ targeting retirees

The so-called classifieds scam is targeting Aussie seniors again. Source: Shutterstock

NSW Police have warned Aussie seniors to beware of a recently resurfaced scam trying to rort over-60s out of their retirement savings.

Police say they have received fresh reports of the ‘classifieds scam’ which targets retirees and other Aussies who are looking to purchase boats, motorhomes and machinery.

In a post published to their Facebook page on Friday night, police explained the scammers place an advert in the classifieds section of a newspaper and lure their victims in with promises of a good deal.

“Investigators have been told the scam begins with what appears to be a genuine seller of an item advertising through the classifieds,” NSW Police said. “In many cases, the advertised sale price is below market value.

“The advertisement will feature a mobile number, which will not be answered, instead responding via text message that they are unable to talk on the phone.”

After the scammer has established contact via text, they often direct the conversation to email to conduct price negotiations. Once a price is agreed upon they usually request a sizeable upfront payment by electronic transfer, such as online banking, and then provide instructions to contact a freight company to arrange delivery and make final payment.

Typically, the freight company contact details provided by the scammer defer to another scammer, who takes a final payment before providing a fraudulent tracking number.

The goods are never delivered and the money is not able to be recovered.

Because of the significant contact between the scammer and the victim, some people have also had their identities stolen and personal details phished. Police say scammers are also using mobile phone porting to disguise their phone numbers to make them look legitimate.

The scam has been around for many years, but there’s been a resurgence in the false newspaper ads in recent months leading to thousands of dollars lost to fraudsters.

In November alone, the scam claimed more than $230,000 from innocent Aussies, while more than $1 million has been lost over the course of the year.

Scamwatch says there are telltale signs seniors should look out for when purchasing big-ticket items through classifieds ads.

Scammers will often say they’ve moved overseas or are out of town so can’t meet face-to-face and try to conduct the entire sale over email or text. They may also request that you pay through international money transfers, cheques or direct bank transfers.

Anyone who comes into contact with a seller who behaves like this should think twice before committing to the purchase. 

Anyone who thinks they may have been scammed should report the matter to local police and Scamwatch. If you’re worried your identity may have been stolen, get in touch with IDCARE for assistance.

Have you ever heard of this scam? Have you ever been tricked by a scammer?

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