Fake advertisement scam

Jean, a consultant who owns a holiday rental cottage, received a call about the renewal of an advertisement in an accommodation directory for her cottage. Jean was particularly busy and the woman told her that it had to be done that day to make the print deadline. The woman asked for Jean’s credit card details so that she could receive a discount on the ad. Jean thought that this was one of many publications that she had previously used, so she provided her details.

The next day Jean received an invoice by fax stating that $350 had been debited from her credit card and a proof copy of the ad from the accommodation directory. Jean then knew that she has been conned. The proof copy looked familiar using details from her cottage website but she had never heard of the directory and certainly hadn't previously advertised with it.

Jean checked the bank account and rang the company to demand a refund since she felt that the company had obtained permission for the ad under false pretences. The woman she spoke to refused to refund the money and was very aggressive and unpleasant. When Jean asked her how many copies of the directory were distributed the woman said that she didn't have that information.

After a lot of hard work and negotiation, Jean got the credit card payment refunded by the bank. She also made a complaint to the NSW Fair Trading, even though they had got a refund because she wanted to prevent others being tricked.

Investigators from Fair Trading followed up Jean’s complaint about the publishing company, as well as complaints from many other small business owners who were duped by the company. Fair Trading pursued the company in the Supreme Court where the company was ordered to stop engaging in their unlawful and deceptive conduct.

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