IN an attempt to prevent small business owners from being scammed, a local woman has taken to Facebook to warn of phone offers that seem too good to be true.
Bedroc Nail Design owner Corina Noble took to the Esperance Community Page on Facebook on September 3, to warn of an Australian Federal Police (AFP) scam currently targeting the town's small businesses.
"I got a phone call on Friday 28th August to my business phone line and the person introduced himself as Len Ellis who said he was from the Australian Federal Police," she said.
"After telling me about their three monthly magazine, he said I could have my business promoted in the magazine by providing a donation, after which I'd receive a certificate of appreciation."
"He said the advertising that I nearly paid for would go directly to the prevention of youth suicide."
Mrs Noble said she was interested in the advertising offer at first as her business had only opened two months ago.
She said the scammer was incredibly likeable, knew how to play on her emotions and provided her with an authentic looking email - until she scrolled to the very end.
"He offered me two options; a $600 option or a $300 option to have my business advertised," she said.
"Because of my interest, I provided an email address to which he sent me an extremely authentic looking email.
"The scam email letter head looked exactly the same as the Australian Federal Police's letterhead on their website.
"All he wanted me to do was click yes on the email, but as I scrolled down to the end of the email, I thought it looked a little suspicious as if the section asking for approver details had been copied and pasted.
"Before clicking 'yes' I decided to print out the email and hand it into the police."
Mrs Noble said the police directed her to the consumer protection hotline who confirmed the "too good to be true offer" was indeed a scam.
She said the scammer knew of a recent tragedy that had occurred in Esperance and used it to his advantage.
"The most disgusting part of the scam was they were using youth suicide to gain my sympathy as well as my money," she said.
"To use that topic to scam people is atrocious."
Esperance business owner Kimdelia Arnold said she was extremely thankful for Corina's post on the community page as she nearly had been scammed.
"I'm really glad Corina put the warning up as I don't know what would've happened if I had agreed," she said.
"The timing was impeccable too as I saw the post the same day I received the phone call and, afterwards, the email."
"I live in Darwin but own the Rustic Retreat in Esperance, so when I told him I didn't live in Esperance he was taken aback, like as if he only wanted to target Esperance businesses."
An AFP spokesperson said they were well aware of the scam and encouraged anyone who had received a call or email to not respond in any way.
"The AFP does not solicit funds, and this scam is not associated with the AFP in any way."
"The AFP is reminding people that they should not provide financial or other personal information to people that they do not know and trust, and to never click on links contained within spam or unexpected emails."
"Anyone who receives a similar request or believes they are a victim of this type of fraud should report it to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network [ACORN] at report.acorn.gov.au
"The ACORN website also includes helpful hints for spotting scams and keeping personal details safe."