On 4th January 2024 police have arrested a 53-year-old Queensland woman on fraud charges in relation to an alleged wedding dress Ponzi scheme worth more than $100,000. The woman was taking money for orders and not making the orders, falsely representing counterfeit dresses as designer dresses to clients. The woman was also trying to on-sell previous clients’ dresses in either their original form or had altered the gowns for re-sale. This story was covered by and sourced from ABC news: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-01-04/qld-woman-arrested-wedding-dress-ponzi-scheme-100000/103285466# and https://youtube.com/shorts/H1FnRMZ2VAA?si=_-TG69rDlT44ZVFN.
Cases like this made our blood boiled. It is impossible to be totally risk free as there are many scammers out there nowadays trying to steal money and happiness from you. However, what you can do is to minimise the risk by doing your own due diligence check and listen to your gut feeling. There are a few simple but important check you can do to minimise the risk of being a victim of a scammer dressmaker.
- Is the business properly and legally registered in Australian Business Register (ABR)? This is the most important and the easiest check anyone can do. Go to https://abr.business.gov.au and see if the dressmaker has an ABN; if the ABN currently active or cancelled; if GST currently registered (Only a business with active GST registration can and should charge you GST); and if the advertised name is the same as the one in the business registration and on the invoice. Ask the dressmaker what is the ABN if you can’t find the dressmaker’s company name, business name or the individual’s name.
- Is the business listed on Google? You just need to type the dressmaker or the business name using Google search or Google Map. If the name is not coming up, then type the Suburb after the name and search again. Although not all registered businesses are listed on Google, it gives extra confidence to the consumers knowing that the dressmaker is properly listed on Google. Check if the name listed on Google is the same name under the Australian Business Register (ABR). You should also read some Google reviews, both positive and negative ones.
- Is the business home based? It is usually little risk to use a home based dressmaker or seamstress if he or she is a reputable one with years of history in the industry. Having said that, it doesn’t mean you can’t use a new home based dressmaker without the reputation and history. It is just that you need to be a bit more extra careful that’s all.
- Is the price unrealistically cheap? Let’s be honest, there is no free lunch. Everything costs money. The more time required to complete a job, the more it would cost. The more skill and experience required for a job, the more it would cost. The higher the quality of a job, the higher the cost would be. Australia is a place with high standard of living and wages. The cost of a job should also reflect that unless the dressmaker avoids tax, use illegal workers or runs a sweatshop. Unrealistic cheap price is a red flag.
In conclusion, if after you have done all your due diligence check and still feel something doesn’t seem right either with the dressmaker or the place, your intuition is telling you to leave and you should listen to it.