GROWING PROBLEM: Local business owner Jan Koivunen warns against internet ‘identity theft’.
GROWING PROBLEM: Local business owner Jan Koivunen warns against internet ‘identity theft’. Paul Braven

Florist loses money to long-term internet fraud

LOCAL business owner Jan Koivunen has broken her silence, revealing she has been subjected to long-term internet fraud and is warning others.

For years Jan's Flower Shoppe has had people replicate its website, collect orders and essentially sell them back to Ms Koivunen at an increased rate.

"We had built our own website but it wasn't performing very well (getting high hit rates) and it made me think why," she said.

"People know me, I've been here for 28 years, I don't understand - until I looked into it and I saw someone else is using my name - my brand."

Ms Koivunen said she worked 100 hours a week, employed six staff and took pride in her work, which is why the replica website had her seeing red.

"With the commission cuts they take out of it, they were potentially scamming me out of $1200 a year," she said.

"That's when I went really wild because they were making money out of all my hard work."

Ms Koivunen said she couldn't believe she was a target of identity theft, and believed the culprits were an overseas group.

"They're just an internet company that is a room with some servers and a couple of telephone operators," she said.

"They gather all these orders off unsuspecting people and then they phone up real florists and offer these orders to them but with these huge commissions on them."

Ms Koivunen said she was partly to blame due to her naivety, but people like this needed to be stopped.

"This has been happening for a couple of years, I unwarily went along with it in the beginning, like most florists would because we're artists," she said.

"We're not internet savvy people and it sounds like a good idea until you realise.

"I didn't want to report it immediately to the police because I initially went along with it."

HOW IT'S DONE:

  • Sign businesses up to make a website aimed at helping the business grow.
  • Use the ABN to get a URL with your business name.
  • Pay Google to boost page ratings so when people search for you, they find the false website.


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