Businesses fall foul of credit card scam

A NUMBER of WA business owners have been caught in a credit card scam perpetrated by criminal interests believed to be from Malaysia.

Those involved look for small businesses for sale for around $18,000 and offer a $10,000 deposit with the rest to be paid on settlement.

However, they say they want to take over the business right away.

The business owners are asked to transfer the merchant facility on the business’ EFTPOS machine to an account set up by the alleged buyers.

The merchant facility can only otherwise be transferred at settlement.

They then close the business’ doors and spend between six and 12 hours hand keying numbers from legitimate credit cards owned by people living overseas and making withdrawals of less than $10,000 on those accounts.

Any amount of more than $10,000 would draw a flag from Australian anti-money launder-ing agency Austrac.

The banks credit the account because they appear to be legitimate transactions being made on legitimate credit cards.

The next day those involved in the scam clean out the new account attached to the merchant facility through a telegraphic transfer and, it is believed, flee the country.

Commercial Crime Division officer handling the case Detective Sergeant Garry Fagg said the swindlers were

getting away with up to an estimated $3 million each time.

Because of the way the merchant facility operates, the business owner is liable for the fraud.

“We have charged one person here with a fraud of $3.2 million. She was believed to be operating as a translator and go-between for the group,” Det Sgt Fagg said.

One of the problems hindering police efforts to catch up with the fraudsters is the fact that they are unaware of their correct names.

The group is using what have been proven to be fake identification documents.

Det Sgt Fagg said business owners should not hand over their business until the sale has been settled.

“And they should not hand over the merchant facilities until after settlement,” he said.

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