Victims fleeced over everything from prams to State of Origin tickets are being duped into depositing money into what appears to be a bank account.
The “account” is the number for an Australia Post “Load&Go” debit card, which can be bought from any post office without identification and anonymously drained of cash by scammers anywhere.
The national consumer watchdog and the Queensland police fraud squad both know of the emerging ruse, one of a dizzying array of new online frauds.
But Australia Post has no plans to cut the con by making buyers show photo ID when buying the cards from any of the state’s 464 post offices.
Fraud and Cyber Crime squad detectives expressed alarm at the difficulty of investigating the scam when first learning of it last month.
They learned of it via a detective friend of Brisbane paramedics Darren Dix and Tahnya Hadi, who were ripped off trying to buy a pram through classifieds website Gumtree.
The expectant parents, of Kangaroo Point, said they paid $785 into the scammer’s “account” because they mistakenly believed they could be traced through their bank.
“I’m thinking, bank account in Australia, no problem; most institutions are quite stringent about fraud and ask for identification, a passport, photo ID, a birth certificate, electricity bill,” Mr Dix said.
“But you can walk into a post office and buy 20 of these … If I was a criminal, I’d be going, this is brilliant.”
Heritage Bank, which processes Load&Go transactions for Australia Post, was aware of a number of cases of people being defrauded, spokesman Andrew Fox said.
“Scammers have cottoned on to this and used it a few times because of no requirement for identification, so they can’t be traced,” he said.
“(But) at the end of the day, it’s (Australia Post’s) product and how they set it up is up to them.”
An Australia Post spokeswoman would not say if the government-owned utility would introduce ID checks on the “Load &Go”.
She said simply that Australia Post “encourages consumers to be alert for scams and contact their bank in the first instance if they are concerned about a fraudulent transaction”.