Burglar thumb

How to scam a scammer

The dog days are over

However much you love your pet, buying food for can be a pain (and an expensive one at that).
Comparing suppliers can ease this burden, so long as you follow your nose.

Animal farm

Sue* sought to reduce her recurring pet food costs by trying a price comparison website. She sorted by lowest to highest and was amazed to find one much cheaper than the rest.

When she clicked through to the supplier’s website, she got a strange feeling. While she couldn’t put her finger on it, the site felt ... odd.

Maybe it was the very basic layout; but she’d seen those before. The price was unbeatable, so she got her credit card ready.

As she signed up, the site asked for far more information than it needed. Why, for instance, did it want to know her birth date?

Sue pressed on, but with mounting unease.

Something fishy

Halfway through the transaction, Sue decided to check the supplier’s physical address. The website had none!

And when Sue researched the business name online, she found a long litany of complaints.

Apparently, this was a very dodgy outfit, with a reputation for taking payments but not delivering product.

Relieved to have escaped dealing with this crowd, Sue logged out and bought from an Australian supplier with a proper website, lots of user reviews and a fair-dinkum address.

The pet food cost more, but at least it arrived.


The shonky overseas supplier then started sending creepy (and very poorly spelt) emails, trying to persuade Sue to buy. She wrote back, demanding to know where they were based. That shut them up quick smart. (See Appendix for email thread.)

Sue was even gladder these people didn’t have her credit card details.

The morals of this story are:

  1. Supplier comparison is great, but don’t just go on price.
  2. Trust your instincts and suss out vendors before you commit.
  3. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Most importantly, don’t forget that local shopping still has a whole lot going for it.

Pet hates

Do you have a shaggy-dog tale to share?

I’d love your views on price comparison, good and bad suppliers and anything else that interests you.

I’ll reply swiftly and personally to every (polite) comment, so let’s talk!

* Changed name, true story

Appendix: Shonk vs Sue

Hi Sue, I see you where looking at products on our site. Was there any think we can help you with please let us know. All feedback back good or bad is grateful to help us build a better site.

Hello there. It’s very odd to receive an email like this. Also, the spelling is very bad. Where exactly are you based? Regards, Sue.

We are based in Scamtown*. Sorry spelling not up to standard but thank you for the feedback and will look at improving it.

It’s also very odd that you don’t include our previous email thread in your reply. Nor do you give your name; even though you use mine. Whereabouts in Scamtown? Exactly.

Hi Sue sorry for being Polite and addressing you by your name. It is Larry* that has email you today but i will not as it seams to have offend you with the way i emailed you.

You are being very evasive, Larry. Let me ask you once again: what is your explicit physical business address? If you cannot answer this simple question, I may have to assume skulduggery.

No reply.


Fred Schebesta is a Director of finder.com.au and loves being frugal and finding loopholes in deals.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    AdrianSeptember 10, 2012

    Yeah nice. Australian address is key because this will ensure Sue (and others) have legal recourse to get dodgy businesses shut down.

    Some of the real cases of online stockbroking fraud — the customer service can be better than you’d get anywhere and their financial knowledge top class — they just happen to be offering something too good to be true and fleecing money in the process.

    • finder Customer Care
      FrederickSeptember 11, 2012Staff

      Wow, legal recourse and physical addresses that is a great tip. Got any others?

      Do you have any stories about that Adrian?

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