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We chatted with a scammer trying to rip off the people of Orange

October 22, 2022

By Peter Holmes

The "seller" - who said they were in Orange but might have been anywhere on the planet - wanted a $1,000 deposit as a sign of goodwill.

Had I paid, the money would have gone straight to an account held at the branch of a major Australian bank in southwestern Sydney. And from there, who knows?

In return, the "seller" promised to hold the goods they had advertised for sale until the following morning, when they would be open for viewing.

It was, of course, a stupendously outrageous request, and one I never had any intention of fulfilling. Who pays $1,000 so they can have the honour of going to look at products for sale?

The scam, which was in play again on social media groups in Orange this week, is not new or at all sophisticated. But it works.

The slide.

Occasionally someone will admit in a post on social media that they’ve been stung, but you could safely assume that for everyone willing to face the ridicule and judgement, there are a whole lot more who write it off as a bad experience and remain silent.

An ad on Facebook.

The fake advertisements, often posted in popular buy, swap and sell pages on Facebook, always seem to feature a John Deere or Husqvarna ride-on mower. It's usually the most expensive item on the list.

There are other common threads in the scam:

  • The John Deere or Husqvarna ride-on mower is priced very reasonably;

  • There is a range of items for sale, also priced very reasonably;

  • A giant inflatable slide is often one of the items;

  • The items are photographed in various locations (e.g., yards, sheds, various rooms inside a house), but, remarkably, each internal shot contains different flooring (what an amazing house you have! So eclectic!), or external shots that were clearly not taken on the same property.

The Orange News Examiner won’t mention the name of the person on Facebook supposedly selling the items, or use photos of the person, as it was clearly a fake account. And not a very good one. The person had one Facebook friend, in Kenya, and followed a number of Kenyan pages.

But we did engage with them to see how they operate. We'll call them Joan.

The overall value of the goods was well over $10,000. This is what Joan listed for sale:

"Accepting all payment methods..." The advertisement on a Facebook page for Orange.

Hi ... are you in Orange?

Yes of course.

Is it possible to come and test drive the Deere?

No problems.

A buggy advertised for sale in Orange.

What’s the best time? There’s a few items I might be interested in if they’re not sold. What part of town?

Near Pomona St, Orange Walk, Belize. Tomorrow 10am. But for assurances pay deposit to hold them.

[The scammer was clearly not on top of their game. They had posted in a social media group in Orange in the Central West of NSW, but seemed to be confused with Orange Walk in the Central American country of Belize, some 14,000km away. I ignored this massive red flag and we ploughed on.]

This was advertised in ... Orange NSW Australia. Just confirming you’re in Orange? I’m very interested.

Yes. Still available. Any update?

[Poplars Drive in Orange was the closest name I could find to Pomona Street in Belize, so I went with that.]

Is it Poplars Drive off the Escort Way in West Orange?



[Thumbs up symbol.]

When you mentioned the deposit what is all that about please?

I hope 10am suits you. Tomorrow.


The seller apparently resides in a big box retail outlet.

Would you do a special price if I bought a number of items?

Yes of course.

Hello? I’m becoming very worried I might miss out on your goodies? Are they still up for sale?

Yes, still for sale. Why are you asking that?

I’m sorry I thought because you didn’t answer I might have missed out. With the weather in Orange lately being so hot and wet the grass is growing very quickly and I need to get a new ride-on sorted out, thank you.

Okay. What are you interested in specifically?

The John Deere, the treadmill, the washer/dryer and maybe the slide. How much for all of them? What is your best price please?






In case you buy the four items I will make deal with you $2100

And I might be interested in the fridge too but I want to look at the fridge first please.

Okay fridge $500

That's very nice of you thank you!


So $2,600 for all of those items?


does the fridge smell OK? Some fridges have a strange smell, I don't want to buy a fridge that smells badly

Smell ok, still in excellent conditions. 8 months old.

[After leaving Joan dangling for a few minutes, she gave me the hurry up.]

I am about to leave for a job after 30 minutes. Please be faster a little bit dear



ok thank you for being honest. I will bring my brother to help load the gear onto my truck, but he is incredibly lazy. Would you be able to help me load the slide and the treadmill into the truck? I can pay an extra $25 for your help.

Yes no problems I am available

Thank you.

No worries

How much deposit do you require to hold these items for me please? I don't want to pay more than $1,500 deposit. That is my personal rule.

$1000. Pay through bank details

How do I do that?

Can I drop bank details

what do you mean by drop please?

[A BSB and account number was then provided.]

Drop screenshot after payment for confirmation and security purposes. Thank you.

OK. I need to think about it as I did this once before and when I turned up there was nobody there.


Can I ask why you mentioned Belize at the start of our conversation? That worries me a bit. You seem very honest. But Belize is a long way from Orange.

I am about to leave for a job please

I'm guessing you also have property in Belize and are also selling off items there? It's a great place in the summer, so I'm told. I've never been. I need to think.

Okay no worries it seems you are not a serious buyer.

Ok sorry to bother you

Any update please. Will you buy or can I give another buyer chance

I need to know more about it. Can you promise this is not a project to relieve me of my resources? I want to trust you, but my political advisor Dr Geoffrey Contwalter says I should see the items before spending $1,000 on a deposit. I hope I’m not holding you back from work.

Okay no problems.

I think if someone wants to buy tonight you should sell to them because I don’t want you to lose a sale. I need to think overnight and discuss with my team of advisers. I’m so very very sorry to interrupt your work flow.

No worries.


And that is where I left it with Joan.

The John Deere and the love seat, the odour-free fridge and the sectional sofa, the "fireplace electric" and the lawn chairs - well, they just weren't right for me.

But who knows how many other conversations this person was conducting at the same time?

Did someone take the bait and pay a deposit they will never see again?

Lesson: If a John Deere ride-on mower, a fireplace electric and a massive inflatable slide are part of the same sales lot, consider your options very carefully.

Facebook has a page on scams here.

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