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Warning of rapid antigen test scams as vendors sell them for $500

·2-min read
Close image of woman holding rapid antigen test in her hands.
Australians have been warned to be careful of rapid antigen test offers that look too good to be true. (Source: Getty)

Australians have been warned to be on the lookout for rapid antigen test scams, as the business watchdog monitors sales.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Monday warned it was investigating potential scams after receiving hundreds of complaints about online stores accepting payments while knowing they would be unable to supply the tests, or never planned to.

It also warned that some retailers were refusing to provide receipts of sale or were recording sales of the tests as other items to hide the mark-ups.

At the same time, resellers were selling tests for up to $1,000 online, the ACCC warned, adding that paying more than $30 for a single test was a sure sign that a business or individual was taking advantage.

More on rapid antigen tests:

The ACCC is now working with the Australian Federal Police to determine whether businesses and individuals have broken biosecurity laws by marking up rapid antigen tests by more than 20 per cent.

“We will continue our investigations and analysis of information from consumers, retailers and suppliers, and will provide further updates in coming weeks,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

Finder personal finance expert Kate Browne also called on Australians to be alert to scams.

In particular, one current scam offers Australians the opportunity to “bulk buy” rapid test kits by paying in advance.

“With RAT kit shortages at an all-time high, Australians should be wary of any private offers to buy tests online,” Browne said.

“If the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t give your personal information to anyone that approaches you online who you don’t know.

“Finding a RAT kit in a shop currently is like finding a needle in a haystack – your best bet is to shop online with reputable dealers.”

The ACCC has received more than 6,415 complaints of scams related to coronavirus since the pandemic began, with Australians losing around $9.8 million.

“Don’t let scammers take advantage of you financially with fake offers of stock that doesn’t exist," Browne said.

“If you do see a scam operating, report it to www.scamwatch.gov.au and be sure to call it out online to protect others.

“COVID is stressful enough physically, mentally and financially – don’t let scammers sell you a dream.”

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