Clunes man’s funny attempt to sting the scammer

A LOCAL man has turned the tables on an unwitting scammer who tried to swindle him for thousands.

Two weeks ago Clunes landscape gardener Bernard Brunner received an email, the start of what would reveal itself to be a complex, yet ultimately failed scam attempt.

The unknown woman called "Serena" had a "hearing impairment" and claimed to be moving into a unit in Alstonville, and asked Mr Brunner's business to do some landscaping there before the move-in date.

Mr Brunner agreed, but was told the woman was in hospital having a double cochlear implant so couldn't talk over the phone.

Instead, he was asked to take a payment of $4000 from her credit card, then meet a removalist who was to be paid $3000, and do the landscaping work for the remaining $1000.

Mr Brunner agreed, but after little research decided something was fishy about the story.

The scam takes advantage of system where banks credit bank accounts with pending payments before a credit card payment is fully verified.

This tricks the unsuspecting target into thinking they have taken a genuine payment for $4000 which is actually from a stolen credit card.

They pay the money to the scammer, only to be left out of pocket when the credit card payment is reversed.

"You see the money in your account and think 'that's cool', and then you send off the $3000, think you're doing okay, and in the next couple of days the bank takes the money back," Mr Brunner explained.

"The person who accepts the money is legally responsible unless they have the signature of the person paying it."

His research also found that the scammer never turn up at the Alstonville address, but at the last minute asks the money to be transferred directly.

"They get you wanting your thousand dollars, and just at the last minute they tell you to send it somewhere else," he said.

In an attempt to turn the tables, Mr Brunner contacted "Serena" and told her the credit card didn't work - she apologised, and gave him another credit card number. He then told her there were bank fees associated with the transfer, and sent her an invoice for $77.40.

"We were sitting around laughing our hearts out wondering what would happen next," he said.

"I said 'no deal' (until the invoice is paid), and then she came back again saying 'are you trying to scam me?'."

Mr Brunner reckoned he cost them the price of two stolen credit cards and encouraged more people to play havoc with scammers whenever they could.

He warned small business people who regularly deal with transactions of a few thousand dollars to stay alert to potential scams.

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