Scams To Avoid

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Scams to avoid

We understand that online transactions can be simple and convenient, but please remember that face to face transactions are the best way to minimise the risk of fraudulent activity.

While the vast majority of experiences on Auction Hut are successful and hassle-free, we always recommend our users to follow these simple steps to ensure they get the best out of their use of Auction Hut:

Never send money to anyone you don’t know
If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably isn’t true
Always use common sense

Here are some common scams to look out for:
Brand name spoofing / phishing
You get an email/SMS that claims to be from Auction Hut, Western Union, or another company and offers buyer protection or an online payment system or perhaps a cash prize. These emails will typically request that you send money or provide personal information. Any emails which combine urgency with some need for personal details should be treated with caution, no matter whom they purport to be from. Auction Hut and most other companies will never send out such emails. If you send money via these sites you are likely sending money to the fraudsters.
If you receive an email alleging to be from a company offering a service, then go directly to the company’s official website and look for details of the service.


Don’t respond to emails from people or organisations that you aren’t familiar with.
Don’t open downloads or follow links in emails. If you know the company, type their home URL into the browser.
Examples of spoof emails
Here are some examples of what fake emails look like:

Dear customer,
In order to avoid fraud attempts and confirm your identity, please forward us the following details:

Please complete the form immediately. If not, your account will be erased based on fraud motivation. Thank you!
Auction Hut Secure Department
Dear Auction Hut User,
Thanks for your Ad however we’re afraid that your Ad has been removed because it was flagged as fraud. We need you to confirm your identity. Please follow this link:
“fake link to” Confirm Account Identity

For more information, please review our posting policies. Any future Ads will also be removed until your account will be verified.
Auction Hut Security
What to do if you think you’ve been sent a spoof Auction Hut email
You should forward suspicious emails which you don’t think are from Auction Hut to so we can investigate and de-activate any fake site links. Simply forward the email, do not click on links or take any other action requested in those suspicious emails.

For more information on how you can protect yourself online, visit the Australian Government’s online safety section here

SMS Scam
An SMS message from a potential buyer asking you to respond on email could be a scam. Legitimate buyers and sellers are unlikely to want to be emailed if they are contacting you via your phone. If you receive an SMS asking you to respond on email, we recommend you stop communicating with this person immediately and notify the Auction Hut team.

The messages will look and sound similar to the following examples:
“Hello mate, I saw your listing on Auction Hut and can you let me know if still on sale…”
“Hello, I saw your ad on Auction Hut. I’m ready to offer you 20,000AUD for the vehicle. For quick response, email me at: Smith”
The messages may have a name in the title or may be from an overseas phone number. Some will even look like a local number with a +614 area code; these are sent via online SMS service providers like ‘SMS craze’.

These scammers want to communicate with you over email so they can open up their word document and Google translator to copy and paste their pre-prepared scripts.
Auction Hut is designed for local, face to face trading. We encourage our community to follow the Auction Hut usage guidelines;

Always meet in person
Never send money to anyone you don’t know
And if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

If you have any questions or need clarification, simply click that ‘contact us’ button just below in the footer and we can help with any questions you might have.

If you have received a fake PayPal invoice, please forward it to This is an automated system that only processes information found in these types of email messages, so if you have any questions or concerns please instead write to us here.

Voice Message Spoof Email
Some users have reported to us that they were sent an email stating they have received a voice message on Auction Hut. This is a phishing email that will look similar to the following:

You have received a voice message (urgent) from your ad on Auction Hut.

To hear the message go to this link: _______________

Thank you

After clicking on the link, it asks you for an email username and password. These phishing emails are sent by fraudulent people and not Auction Hut!

Please note that Auction Hut does not offer a phone or voicemail service when replying to ads. If you include a phone number in your ad, buyers can respond to you directly and any voice message you receive from them will be a normal voice message.

We’re really sorry about these annoying emails and kindly ask you to ignore them. If you’d like to report the fake site, please forward the email to so we can investigate it and get the fake site links de-activated quickly.

You’ve won the lottery!
Fake lotteries, sweepstakes and competitions exploit a dream that many of us have – oh to live the Lotto life! Often these competitions will say that they are held in a different country and that you were automatically entered into the draw or someone entered on your behalf.
Scammers take advantage of you by:

Call or text a phone number (often starting with 19) where you are charged for the duration of the call.
Send your bank and other personal details, which they’ll then sell to other scammers and expose you to identity theft.
Pay an upfront fee to claim your prize (that doesn’t exist).

An overseas relative has left you their fortune!
A scammer, disguised as a lawyer or bank, emails you saying that a long-lost relative has died and left you a huge inheritance. How many of us know our distant relatives? They can be convincing too, with ancestry and genealogy websites making your family tree readily available.
Scammers may try to trick you by getting you to:

Send personal documents and bank details, which they’ll then sell to other scammers or use for identify fraud.
Pay fees and taxes to release the inheritance (that doesn’t really exist).

Oops, I paid you too much! Cheque overpayment
A buyer or seller or prospective tenant will send you a cheque worth more than the value of the items/ rent and then ask for the surplus money to be returned to them or a third party, for example ‘to pay for shipping’. The cheque will clear into your bank, only to be stopped/refused weeks later. At this point, the Banks/Building Societies will take the full cheque amount back out of your account. Not only will you have lost the goods, you will be out of pocket for the amount of the cheque and the amount you passed on as the difference.

If you receive an overpayment cheque or money order, return it to the sender and ask for the correct amount.
Wait for cheques to clear and cash in money orders before sending your product.

Payment for brokerage/importing
A seller claims that there are brokerage fees, import duties, or other such fees required to get an item into the country. Do not pay such fees, as you will most often never get the product and will have lost any money you paid. Auction Hut is designed for local, face to face trading.

Fake escrow sites
A buyer or seller or prospective tenant/ landlord suggests using an escrow service to complete the transaction. Often these escrow web sites are run by fraudsters (even though they may look ‘official’) and they will take your money and never send you the product.

Only transact face to face on Auction Hut.

Work from home and make a fortune
Many work from home offers are ‘pyramid schemes’ which require you to recruit other members in order to get paid. For example, an ad may say that you can make 100 an hour by stuffing envelopes. But to make that money, you need to sell the system to others. Other work from home opportunities are fronts for money laundering – key warning sign should be any ‘job’ that involves you receiving cheques and cashing them. For these reasons we typically don’t accept work from home positions on Auction Hut.

Legitimate jobs don’t ask for upfront joining or membership fees
Often it’s the people you trust, your friends and family who will be trying to recruit you. They usually don’t realise that what they’re doing is illegal.

419 Scams
You receive an email saying that your help is needed to take money out of a country and that you will be paid a commission for your help. Eventually they will ask you for money to help them take the large amount of money out of the country and once you pay you will never hear from them again.

This is illegal - don't participate.

Pet Shipping Scams
A seller will claim to have a pet and will offer to ship the pet to you from an overseas location, or even get you to book seats on a plane! These are usually sought after dog breeds such as English Bulldogs, Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas. These ads are usually accompanied by fake pictures. The pets don’t exist and the fraudsters simply try to get you to pay money upfront. Remember: be wary of overseas sellers.

Refusing to use PayPal
You can pay and be paid using PayPal at face to face transaction. If someone insists on completing a transaction through a bank transfer, please proceed with caution.

Find out more about PayPal by clicking here.

Telling users they will post the item as soon as they’ve received money via online transfer
Legitimate posters do state this, but scammers are starting to use it to their advantage. Be on the lookout for excuses that may delay them from sending the item.
For example: “My bank takes three days, so I probably won’t see the money till Thursday. When I get the money, I’ll send it.”
Nowadays, most online transfers are received within 24 hours. If the user says it will take longer, they’re likely buying time to receive the money and transfer it to an untraceable account.

Sense of urgency
If scammers think you’re hesitant on the sale, they create a sense of urgency so you complete the transfer right away. They may do this by telling you they’ve received a lot of interest or that someone closer wants to purchase the item.
Sad stories
Fraudsters try to manipulate the Auction Hut community by using sad stories to gain your compassion and trust.

If you haven’t received the item you’ve paid for, and the poster is using a death in the family or an accident as an excuse, it’s likely the ad is a scam.
Unfortunately, tragic things do happen to good people — including our users — so investigate this with caution on the off-chance it’s true.

Using slang and unstuffy language

While many scams follow a script, sometimes fraudsters use conversational and casual language to put the user at ease. Their motive is to make you feel comfortable that they’re not the typical overseas scammer.

Some phrases we’ve seen are:

I’ve had lots of dramas
When it hits my account

If the poster uses an abnormal amount of slang, especially when making an excuse, please be wary of the transaction.
We always recommend completing face to face transactions.
Ask for new, original photos of the product. If cash isn’t available, insist on using PayPal.
If a bank account number is given, research the BSB number. ‘Building societies’ do not have a unique BSB number per branch, so scammers may use them because they’re harder to trace.
If you send money via PayPal, do not label the transaction as a ‘gift’ and ensure that your specific transaction will be eligible for their purchase protection program.
Don’t panic if a poster is trying to rush the process. Make sure you do your due diligence. If the seller moves on, the item will probably come along again. We see thousands of new ads posted on Auction Hut every day.

And as always, if the price is too good to be true, it probably is.

Fruit picking and farming job scams
We’ve recently had reports of a job scam involving fruit picking and other related farming jobs. These ads are targeting backpackers and are offering employment and accommodation for an up-front fee. If you’ve seen or responded to such ads please report it to us immediately and cease communication with the advertiser.

How to protect yourself – Please ignore any job offer that:

Asks you for upfront fees
Offers you free accommodation
Offers a guaranteed job and or income
Offers quick visa approval and sponsored employment in Australia 

That advertises harvesting, the picking of fruits or vegetables, in the wrong season i.e. picking summer fruits in winter
Will only provide a post office box as the contact address

Please note: this is not a definitive list of indicators of a scam – some brazen scammers will provide a real street address, but the people living at that address have nothing to do with the scam.
You can also conduct a simple ‘WHOIS’ or Google search on the organisation that will allow you to see when the URL for the website was set up – if it was only recently established then it is potentially fake.

Any further questions please contact us and we can help out.

Recent Scam Trends in Jobs
When job searching, be on the lookout for the following:

Providing a link to a fake company website, which will collect your personal information, in the “Map Address” field of the ad
Vague job titles or descriptions, with very little information provided on the scope of work Unreasonably high pay offered If you see an ad like this on the site, please report it to us and do not respond to it as it’s not likely to be genuine. Please report anything suspicious to us here. You can find more safety tips for jobs here.

Load and Go Cards
We always advise that your deal face to face. However, we’ve received reports that some of our users are still transferring money and unfortunately falling victim to scams.

It’s been reported to us that fraudsters are now using Load and Go prepaid visa cards that appear to be a regular bank account because they have a heritage BSB number.

Here’s how it can work:

The poster asks you to make a payment via bank transfer.
The poster sends you a bank account number so you can deposit funds into it.

After you’ve deposited funds, the poster may send you a shipping tracking ID so you think the transaction is genuine. These IDs usually do not exist or they are picked at random and belong to another person’s shipment.
The poster ceases contact and you do not receive the item you purchased

ID is not required to purchase Load and Go cards and they are hard to track which is why these fraudsters are using them. Please be aware that BSB 880100 is for Load and Go cards and not for actual Heritage Bank accounts.

Please note: that even if you speak on the phone with someone, they may not be genuine. Fraudsters are becoming craftier and may make personal contact to reel you in, such as a phone call. The best way to complete a transaction is face to face and at a location both parties have agreed upon.

Other good sources of information to read about common scams on the net are:

The Little Black Book of Scams – a great publication with information and tips on a wide range of online and offline scams, produced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. – Lots of information on how to recognise scams and report them to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Get Safe Online – an online safety guide with top 10 safety tips – it’s well worth checking out.
You can also learn about current scams from other Auction Hut users in the Auction Hut Forums by clicking on the ‘Discussion’ tab located on top of all pages.

I receive a pop up message that my computer may have a ‘botnet’ when I try to reveal phone numbers. What do I do now?

If you receive a pop-up message when you click to reveal a phone number on Auction Hut our systems have detected suspicious activity coming from your computer or another computer in the same network which could indicate a type of virus called a ‘botnet’. A botnet is a virus that allows hackers to perform illegal activities, such as sending SMS spam to our users, through your Internet connection.

To help you remove the botnet from your computer/network there are a number of free, easy to use security tools available:

For Windows users: please go to Microsoft’s Safety & Security Centre. Here you can download the freely available Microsoft Safety Scanner
For Mac users: you can find more information on Apple’s Mac OSX Password and Security page in the ‘Virus, Malware and Gatekeeper’ section.
For Linux users: you can find further information on the Open Source Security page; the chkrootkit tool is also useful.

If you believe you have received this message in error please contact our Customer Support team.

Please Note: You will not receive email communications or phone calls from Auction Hut in relation to the security of your computer/computer network.

We’ve received identical replies for my car ad – are they scammers?
When someone wants to send you a message about your car ad, the reply box that pops up has a default message already showing:
User-added image
This means you may receive more than one message that looks identical to the above, if the person chooses not to personalise it.
You should always keep our safety tips in mind when selling a car on Auction Hut, and please contact us if you have any concerns about messages you’ve received.

Beware of requests to post ads on behalf of strangers

Recently, we’ve become aware of an online scam trend where scammers are getting legitimate users to post fraudulent ads on their behalf.

Point of contact – Fraudsters contact members via their ads with a “too good to be true” job offer. These job offers usually involve posting ads on the employers’ behalf, however, there is a risk that the ‘employer’ is a scammer who is looking for someone to post illegitimate ads on their behalf.
Of particular note, currently there’s a specific scam targeting people who have posted wanted rental ads. Via these ads, members are contacted by fraudsters posing as “landlords” offering to hold an apartment for them, on the condition that the member posts available rental ads on the ‘landlord’s’ behalf.
Targeting Members – The scammers’ objective is to use other user accounts as a disguise so that the fraudster is not directly linked to the illegitimate ads posted.
Consequences – If your account is found to be involved with fraudulent activity, it is Auction Hut’s right to permanently block your account. Involvement in illegal activity may also result in possible police investigations.
Avoiding the scammers – Ignore strangers requesting that you post ads on their behalf as they are most likely to be fraudulent. If you find an ad or have received an offer matching the previously mentioned characteristics, please do not hesitate to flag it through Auction Hut’s ad flagging system or report it by contacting our Help Desk.
Watch for ‘scheduled payment receipts’ if accepting online bank transfers
Auction Hut is a community marketplace connecting buyers and sellers in the local community, so we always encourage users to transact face to face with cash. If you do choose to transfer money online, please consider linking PayPal to your Auction Hut account and ask the buyer to use PayPal to transfer the funds.
If you decide to accept online bank transfers, please ensure that you view or receive a ‘payment receipt’ and NOT a ‘scheduled payment receipt’.
A scheduled payment receipt is not a confirmation of money transfer, but a notification of a payment scheduled to be made in the future. This can easily be cancelled by the buyer after goods are exchanged.
Please keep in mind that although it’s more difficult, it is also possible to recall an online transfer that has been sent. For this reason, we encourage face to face transactions with cash. Please see some more tips on staying safe here.
Received a response asking me to click on a link – what do I do?
A number of Auction Hut users have reported receiving suspicious emails that may be a new attempt to spread spyware or viruses. If you receive an email in response to your ad that includes a link and a suspicious looking comment attached, please do not click on the link.

These emails have the potential to infect your computer and then to spread the spyware/virus further by access and sending the email to your contacts.
Some examples of these emails are below:
User-added image
User-added image
Please be sure to report any suspicious messages or members to our email at