Consumer fraud is often considered to include deceptive practices within businesses that cause a consumer to suffer a financial or other loss. It is common for the consumer victim to genuinely believe that they are participating in a legal and legitimate business transaction or process when in actual fact the consumer is being defrauded.
A common method of consumer fraud involves a business making inaccurate claims, misrepresentations and false promises which influences or encourages a consumer to part with their money. Practices that also directly cheat consumers out of their money without necessarily being accompanied by a false representation or promise are also highly common. An example of this is identity theft.
The impact of COVID-19 has seen a rise in the number of scams and operations perpetuating consumer fraud. With many individuals out of work and searching for an income, this opens the door to potential consumer fraud scenarios where scammers take advantage of vulnerable consumers looking for a method to increase their finances. An example of this is commonly seen in unlicensed bookmaking and associated managed betting schemes.
If you have suffered financial loss as a victim of commercial or consumer fraud, it may have been either online or as a result of a direct transaction.
Consumer fraud will sometimes occur within the following activity:
Recently there has also been a huge rise in the number of COVID-19 scams, with many consumers falling victim to these as they were vulnerable with respect to their finances. During this uncertain time many consumers have also experienced mental strain and may even have faced job loss, which may mean they are more likely to take risks for perceived gain and many are not adequately evaluating the risks involved.
COVID has also seen a number of consumers fall victim to false advertising and misrepresentation whilst searching for methods to promote their health, protect their safety, reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection and secure stable income. In 2021 the Federal Court fined Lorna Jane Pty Ltd $5 million as a result of finding that Lorna Jane engaged in false 'anti-virus' claims in relation to their 'LJ Shield Activewear' range.
Lorna Jane admitted that it made false representations to consumers that the particular range of LV Shield Activewear "stopped the spread" and "eliminated" wearers against viruses, "including COVID-19". Lorna Jane's advertising further promoted the activewear as being a "cure for the spread for COVID 19".
The court stated that Lorna Jane made these false representations at a time when COVID cases were increasing in Australia and found the conduct to be "exploitative, predatory and potentially dangerous. This is an example of effective prosecution where a business was found to have made false and misleading representations, particularly in circumstances were consumers were vulnerable. Unfortunately for these consumers many may not have recovered the money they spent on the falsely advertised active wear. The case also highlights how consumer fraud can happen in many different circumstances, whether through large organisations, commercial purchases and local consumer shopping.
Likewise, technological advances have provided a vast network of online platforms and social media sites, which may also promote business to consumers. It is important for consumers to consider the risks involved when engaging with online businesses as essentially these could be set up by anyone and may have little to no regulation. Consumers should also pay particular awareness to businesses operating across social media platforms only, who may be located overseas and are not compliant with Australian Consumer Law and alike.
The ACCC and other associated agencies operate to protect consumers against unsafe and faulty products as well as unfair treatment from businesses. Consumers who have experienced a loss or suspected fraud may be able to seek assistance and remedies through contacting the ACCC and through instigating legal action.
However, consumers may not always receive a result they are happy with, and may wish to seek assistance in recovering lost funds and even in identifying the particulars of the business that has engaged in the deceitful conduct.
The management at Complete Corporate Services have decades of experience in performing the following services:
We are familiar with Court process and legal procedures with respect to consumer fraud matters and have a history of working with law firms to perform investigations that identify bad actor parties and with recovering financial loss for the victim.
Whatever your matter, CCS understands that each matter is unique and provides a tailored service to match the client's needs. We place an emphasis on building long-term relationships with clients and have proven success in delivering desirable outcomes that meet and exceed client objectives and expectations.
All calls are kept strictly confidential
Complete Corporate Services (CCS) is an Australian-based company which specialises in a range of business support services.
CCS is directed and managed by Scott Sattler, who has over a decade of Risk Management, Investigation, and other business related experience. With over three (3) decades of other experience, our management team has more years of experience than any other known competitor.