Consumers buy illegal guns and realistic replicas of currency online so easily that it worries Australian authorities, according to a criminologist.
- Online retailer Wish sells hidden knives, tasers and counterfeit money on its website
- Online platform connects sellers around the world with local consumers
- In November 2020, a Cairns man was sprayed with capsicum spray allegedly purchased online
Police allege that items purchased from a US-based shopping platform Wish have been used in multiple crimes in Queensland over the past year.
Security guard Shane Burrows was attacked with capsicum spray at PJ’s Irish pub in Cairns in November 2020, after confronting a customer over alleged fake $ 100 bills.
“When the offender got ready to leave, I asked him to stay and that’s when he got aggressive and sprayed me several times directly in the face with capsicum spray. “said Mr. Burrows.
“I’ve been burned in a fire before and felt like he had a spray can and a lighter sprayed directly on my face.
“Now I’m on a work blanket while I wait for eye surgery.”
Earlier that night, the same offender allegedly used capsicum spray inside the Cairns Reef hotel casino, and saw five people being taken to hospital.
During a search of the man’s home in Woree, police reportedly discovered weapons, including a replica weapon, a ballistic vest, knives, a machete, an ax, a taser, capsicum spray and a cattle prod.
Police allege that some of the items were purchased through the Wish website.
In another case, Sunshine Coast man Gary Kenneth Kassulke was jailed this month for importing gun silencers and an automatic knife..
The Commonwealth Prosecutor said Kassulke used Wish to purchase the items between January and April of last year.
Kassulke was arrested after Australian border officials intercepted several packages containing mufflers disguised as “aluminum car parts”.
Dr Andrew Childs of Griffith University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice said easy access to illegal objects and weapons online worried law enforcement officials.
“It is not illegal to import auto parts and when the package is inspected at the border, you cannot really tell the intention of the purchase.
“We have seen vendors doing creative things like advertising party glass straws that are actually ice pipes, which makes it very difficult for the police.”
Online platform response
A spokesperson for Wish said the company does not approve of the list of illegal weapons on its platform and has removed items from the sale.
“Such ads violate both our merchant policies and our terms of service,” the spokesperson said.
“In this case, it appears that the user purchased items advertised as car parts that can be turned into makeshift ‘mufflers’, as well as two knives.
“Each ad has been removed and merchants have had appropriate corrective actions applied for violation of our policies.”
But a quick search of the website showed that breeding silver, hidden knives, tasers and gun parts were still on sale.
Dr Childs said Wish and other similar websites work with third-party sellers, who are responsible for distributing their products.
“This is a special situation because the platforms will say that they are removing sellers from their platform but, at the same time, they have an incentive to keep the sellers because they are getting a commission from them,” Dr Childs said.
The Wish spokesperson said the company has taken a proactive approach.
“We have deployed and will continue to deploy various measures to prevent, identify and remove lists of illegal knives and weapons in our efforts to support a safe environment for users to shop online,” the spokesperson said. .
Australian Border Force did not respond to multiple interview requests.