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What are buying & selling scams?

Scammers can pose as both buyers and sellers, to try and scam you out of money or items you might be looking to sell or purchase.

As a buyer, you may be tricked into paying for a product or service that may not exist or is never delivered. These are also known as online shopping scams, classified scams, health and medical product scams, mobile premium services scams, or psychic & clairvoyant scams.

As a seller, you may be tricked into believing the buyer has paid in full or even paid over your advertised amount, including sending falsified payment receipts to support their claim. The buyer may request a refund for overpayment or reimbursement for out of pocket expenses, or you later find the amount was not paid into your account.

How they contact you*

There are many ways you may be subject to a buying or selling scam.

How they contact you* % How they contact you* %





Text message


Mobile applications




In person


Social networking






Not applicable


What they're after

Buying and selling scams are after your money or to get your item without paying. Once you pay them or send the item, it is gone.

Signs this may be a scam

They may advertise on legitimate sites but ask you to pay for them outside of this site.

Do not pay. Verify if this is real by checking reviews, doing internet searches, viewing goods in person, and always using secure payment options.

You are asked to pay upfront or by unusual payment methods.

Do not proceed, it’s likely they are scammers. Do not provide an up-front payment to a stranger via money order or wire transfer.

You receive an invoice for items you never ordered or from a company you do not know.

Do not pay. Contact the company on a number you source – never use the number provided.

You receive an email or text confirming that a payment has been made.

Do not rely on this as confirmation. Always log into your account to confirm funds have been received.

Who should I contact and examples of scams

Alex was eager to sell his car on an online selling site. He advertised it for $20,000 and was excited to have a buyer respond quickly.

His buyer was living interstate and asked Alex if the car could be couriered to his location. Alex agreed. The buyer insisted on transferring the funds immediately, including additional costs to cover the courier.

The buyer sent Alex a coloured copy of his driver’s licence and a payment receipt.

Happy that he had proof of the payment and the buyer’s identification. He sent the car to the requested location.

Alex then realised the funds had not gone into his account. He could not get in contact with the buyer and found the licence he had been sent had been stolen.

Alex never received his money and lost the car.

Connie answered the door to a friendly tradesperson Mark.

Mark pointed out that repairs were urgently needed on her property, or her roof would soon collapse and cost three times the amount to fix it.

Connie was worried she had a considerable issue with her roof and could not afford the cost if it were to collapse; she asked if Mark could fix it straight away.

Mark agreed and booked the job in for Friday but requested the payment upfront in cash.

On Friday, Mark was unable to be contacted, and did not complete the work. At this point Connie realised she had been scammed and lost her money.

Although she was still concerned about her roof and wanted to be sure there was no work needed. To be sure she had inspected by a local tradesperson who confirmed no work was required, further confirming this was a scam.

Jane had been searching online for a Cavoodle for her family and saw an ad for a puppy for sale for $3,000.

She went to the breeder’s website which appeared to be reputable, listing guarantees and testimonials. The breeder was located interstate.

Jane had several conversations by email and phone with the breeder, Sarah.

Jane paid a deposit of $1,500 for the puppy, as well $500 for the cost of transport.

A couple of days before the delivery date, Sarah asked for the balance owing to be paid. Jane refused to pay until she had received the puppy.

No puppy ever arrived. Jane’s attempts to contact Sarah via emails, phone and the website went unanswered.

The $2,000 Jane had paid was never recovered.  

These scams are also known as puppy scams or gumtree scams.

Latest Scams

To stay in the loop, and stay protected, check out our list of the latest phishing scams impersonating Westpac.

Report a scam

If you receive any suspicious calls, emails or SMS messages, or notice unusual activity on your account, it’s important that you let us know.

Security Wellbeing Check

To help keep you up to date with the latest security features, we’ve introduced the Security Wellbeing Check. Found in the Westpac App, it checks your Westpac settings and suggests how you can improve the security of your banking facilities.

Things you should know

* Delivery method percentages are based on the number of reports from 1 January 2020 to 31 August 2020. The data is sourced from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) scam watch website and is based on reports provided to the ACCC by web form and over the phone.

** Examples are based on one or more real scam reports received by Westpac. For privacy purposes real names have not been used.