Scammed $8000, What to Do Next?

Hi OzBargain,

I purchased a few desktops from a seller (individual not business) on facebook marketplace a while ago. The transaction went well, paid in cash and the machines are working fine. I was interested in purchasing more desktops and they stated that they could offer a bulk amount of desktops for a cheaper price. We went back and forth around five times, where I purchased desktops in cash. They sent over a list with a substantial amount of desktops, for as we had built a rapport over I trusted them and paid with a Bank Transfer. This is all documented on Facebook Messenger. That was my undoing as they missed delivery twice and after a month of repeated texts and calls offered to refund me in full. A month passes and after multiple texts where I was ignored again, I receive a sob story about how they was scammed by someone else and they were unable to get the money back and had their own assets frozen. They offered to pay instalments however have gone radio silence since.

My question is, what would be the likelihood of me winning the case if I take them to the Small Claims Court (NSW)? While we didn't have a formal contract, we discussed, negotiated and agreed to the terms of a sale on messenger where I have taken screenshots of. Will the court force me to go in mediation with them despite the fact they have never replied to my text messages or calls? They claim that I will not win in court as I basically gave them "free money", would that be true?

What are some other ways I can get this money back other than going back to the bikies?

Thanks so much!


  • +6

    tldr; bank transferred a trusted individual $8000 for desktops and never received the money or the desktops, would I win if i take them to court

  • +1

    It's unfortunate but it just seems like a case of a lesson to be learnt, the risks of private transactions have been quite well circulated by now ;/

    • Would it not be possible to take them to small claims and try and recoup some of that money back?

      I've read the posts but never thought it would happen in a case where i was able to purchase around 5-6 times without any problem from.

  • +3

    Bikies. Tim Tam will do it for a cup of milk.

    • I thought it was Oreos with milk.

  • Good luck with it.

  • +6

    I'll never understand the mentality of doing a deal over facebook, of all things, and then bank transferring thousands of dollars over. It just boggles the mind.

    You may want to speak to a lawyer to get some advice and see if you have a suitable case before you take it to small claims court.

    • +1

      If it was the first transaction, I would be calling myself out as it would be stupid. However we transacted in real life 5-6 times, where I paid in cash and actually purchased desktops. Unfortunately I now understand that would not be enough to build a rapport which you can trust someone sadly.

  • +12

    "They claim that I will not win in court as I basically gave them "free money", would that be true?"

    Of course the scammer is going to say 'mate, don't bother, you'll never win!' What else are they going to say? Get some proper advice from a lawyer.

  • if they have been served and no show , then you win by default but still got to chase them for money

  • +10

    what would be the likelihood of me winning the case if I take them to the Small Claims Court (NSW)?

    Hard to say, but you would only lose a day of work should you choose to present yourself. I'd say it's worth it for $8000.
    Heck, seller may fold before going to court and offer a partial refund.

    They claim .. I basically gave them "free money", would that be true?

    Well you didn't, did you?
    You paid them in exchange for goods.

    • +1

      Yeah I agree. For this amount of money I'd represent myself. NSW small claims handles up to $20k - so you're fine there.

      Legal Aid NSW will not provide help as this is a business matter but they advise you to contact the free legal assistance line LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529. These legal services can be good - when you go to court you can get stuck on things that don't really matter - legal services can often tell you what might or might not work and how the process will unfold.

      If the opposing side argues it's "free money" then I think you have a very good chance of winning. It obviously wasn't. The absence of a contract/invoice is unfortunate but not a show-stopper. When I go to McDonald's there's no contract, but I'm still entitled to a burger if I give them money.

  • +1

    The integrity of some people are tempted by such small amounts. It'd need to be a hundred million dollar deal before I even consider cashing out my integrity.

    Sorry OP, try an ombudsman or that failing, a professional lawyer. That failing, the bikies.

  • +1

    Consumer to consumer might be a problem.

    Did they present as a business at any point during the exchange? Was there an ABNs or ACNs on a card, invoice, website, bank transfer name/reference?

    I couldn't find the definition of a "business" from the ACCC and Fair Trade/Consumer Affairs, so you may need to resort to the Small Claims tribunal. There will likely be an admin fee.

    However being ordered to pay the money doesn't mean they'll hand it over (even if they have it). It becomes a criminal matter if they don't follow the payment plan.

    • It becomes a criminal matter if they don't follow the payment plan.


      • correct

    • Business is defined in common law not legislation (purposefully). Even then the definition is quite vague and while there are indicators, there's not hard and fast rules to apply.

      But at the end of the day, consumer to consumer doesn't matter. It's whether or not, there was a contract (and then mostly if there was legal intent) and in this case there was.

  • Seek legal advice.

  • +1

    On the face of what you've said, you would likely have a claim.

    The problem you'll have is extracting the cash even if you win. If we accept the other party's story as you've written it, they may well not have the $8k in any event.

    Speak to a solicitor and do your research on small claims.

  • +1

    You don't need to write a contract on animal skin paper, sealed with your family crest on ruby red wax for a binding contract to be found. If you offered money for a certain thing/service and the other party agreed to provide thing/service for the money you will likely succeed in your claim against them.

  • You'll need to make sure you have a way of finding out who's name the bank account is in, otherwise "sorry, my Facebook account was hacked…"

    • They did offer to initially pay back $100 in instalments which they did transfer back from the original account and the name does indeed correlate. They went radio silence afterwards and is the only money I have ever received back.

      • +2

        I would think that the fact they started paying you back is a concession that they do owe you the money and would only help your case.

  • It doesn't matter if you never had a formal written contract.

    You made an offer. The seller accepted. There is now a valid legally enforceable contract.

    Even if this offer and acceptance was made verbally, you would still have a legally enforceable contract. This is a principle of common law going back hundreds of years.

    You can take the seller to court to try to get your money back.

  • purchased a few desktops from a seller (individual not business) on facebook marketplace a while ago.

    Why did you choose to buy electronics from an individual rather than a business?

    • I was intending to offer a business similar to what Calmago on OzBargain offers, however have not had any success in sourcing them at an affordable price and size.

      • Personally, I would take them to court. Filing fee is only $101. Good luck.

  • +1

    This is no help but i truly wish you luck in your pursuit of getting your money back & think you should definitely take seller to small claims.

  • +1

    Thanks for the replies everyone. I will wait until the current situation gets better and lodge a claim through Small Claims Court to take him to court. I will keep everyone updated!

    • +2

      Don't wait, lodge it now. Either the court is closed now and will be clogged with backlogs and you'll be in for a long wait, or the court is open but without much to do and your case will be processed sooner.

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