Not all scams are obvious right from the start.
Not all scams are obvious right from the start.

How to spot an internet scam as it's happening

WHEN Jayde Nesbit fell afoul of an internet scam he did not think much more about it - until the phone calls began.

Mr Nesbit had been scammed by experienced swindler Ashley John Ernst, a South Australian born con artist living in Far North Queensland, who preyed on buyers searching Gumtree for heavy equipment and auto parts.

In December last year Mr Nesbit, of Perth, had arranged to buy a gearbox from Ernst for $300.

That is where his problems began.

"After I paid he refused to answer my calls - it was decline, decline, decline," Mr Nesbit said.

"Then he turned the phone off."

Left without a gearbox, $300 poorer and with police seemingly unable to recover the money, Mr Nesbit chose to move on.

"I gave up on the $300 - six months later a woman calls asking about a shipping container."

Ernst had stolen Mr Nesbit's identity and used it to sell a fictional shipping container and semi trailer - cleaning up $8000 from the unsuspecting buyers.

"You could say it was a bit of a shock," Mr Nesbit said.

"I didn't know what was going on a the time until everyone started messaging me."

He had received queries by two irate buyers within 24 hours.

"It is a really sh*t feeling - you never know who is going to rock up on you doorstep wanting money," Mr Nesbit said.

"You fell pretty stupid."

Ernst won't be scamming anyone for the time being and will spend at least 12 months of a 27 month sentence in prison.

"He should be held there for as long as possible," Mr Nesbit said.

Ernst was eventually undone after Mr Nesbit and other complainants reported the scam to the Australian Cybercrime and Online Reporting Network, or Acorn.

"You can't trust anyone again," Mr Nesbit said.

"I am a lot more cautious and I make sure people come in person or pay in person or through Paypal."