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Australia Heartless scammers door-knocking for bushfire funds

22:43  07 january  2020
22:43  07 january  2020 Source:   9news.com.au

Police investigate SA bushfire as arson

  Police investigate SA bushfire as arson A bushfire in Second Valley near Kangaroo Island that prompted a watch and act alert is suspected to have been deliberately lit.The fire at Second Valley was first reported after 1pm on Tuesday and has burnt more than 28 hectares.

an old stone building: Authorities have warned of scammers and looters in the wake of the country's fires.© Darrian Traynor/Getty Authorities have warned of scammers and looters in the wake of the country's fires. Scammers are looking to take advantage of the bushfire crisis have begun door-knocking homes seeking donations, the Victorian government says.

And in Batemans Bay, in NSW, three people have been arrested and charged, accused of allegedly looting houses on the frontline of the fire emergency.

After the national consumer watchdog opened a dedicated line for reporting bushfire-related scams, Victorian Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville warned some current frauds involved people impersonating bushfire victims.

Heartless thief steals firies ute in Victoria

  Heartless thief steals firies ute in Victoria A farmer who sacrificed her New Year's break to fight fires in East Gippsland, returned to find her ute stolen from outside the Pyramid Hill station in Victoria.CFA volunteers say it's the last thing they need, as they rotate a strike team, heading to the disaster zone.

"Because everyone wants to do so much, people are contributing towards what are scams and fakes, including some door-knocking," she said.

Ms Neville suggested the safest way was to donate to a registered charity or Bendigo Bank's bushfire appeal fund endorsed by the Victorian government.

"One hundred per cent of that is going to communities," the minister said.

"My advice is don't give money over the phone. Do it this way, look up the website, pay online, and do it through the proper processes."

Those believing they've encountered a scam can call the ACCC's line - 1300 795 995 - or report it on the Scamwatch website, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says.

"If you think you have paid money to a scammer, please contact your bank immediately," the ACCC said.

SA man 'masqueraded as bushfire victim'

  SA man 'masqueraded as bushfire victim' Adelaide police have arrested and charged a man with posing as a victim of the Adelaide Hills bushfire, alleging he was trying to receive a benefit for himself. Pictures: Australia's bushfire emergency The 59-year-old was charged with attempted deception and traffic offences, including driving unregistered.He has been granted police bail to appear in Mt Barker Magistrates Court in February.

Donors should be wise to cold-calling, fake websites, and direct messaging, and only use crowdfunding sites that verify the legitimacy of the fundraiser and guarantee refunds if the page is later found to be fraudulent.

"If you are unsure, make your donation to an established charity instead," a spokesman said.

The Australia Charities and not-for-profits Commission Charity Register lists all registered charities and their official websites

Crowdfunding site GoFundMe, where more than $8 million has been raised since New Year's Eve, said it guarantees refunds in the rare event campaign creators misuse funds.

In cases where a campaign owner doesn't know the person they're raising money for, GoFundMe works to ensure the money goes directly into the beneficiary's bank account, a spokeswoman told AAP.

NSW Emergency Services David Elliot on Tuesday said the community had a right to be outraged by looters operating in his state.

"We are not living in South Central LA, we don't live in Syria, we don't do this to each other," he said.

"So anybody, regardless of age or mental state, who want to take advantage of their fellow citizens' disadvantage ... should expect the full force of the law."

The NSW Rural Fire Service Association was forced last week to confirm cold calls from 02 9094 2428 were made by its fundraising centre, amid rumours the calls were a scam.

Tourists return to bushfire-ravaged NSW communities .
Tourists are starting to return to bushfire-ravaged towns on the New South Wales South Coast, and areas cut off by the fires are also bouncing back. Some business owners in regions cut off during the bushfire crisis reported sale losses of up to 70 per cent. Australians have been urged to buy from bushfire-ravaged communities to help them get back on their feet following the crisis.

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