A black market oyster scheme has been uncovered in a ritzy Sydney suburb, leaving residents reeling just a week out from Christmas.
There is nothing better than throwing back a few fresh oysters on Christmas Day, but unfortunately they can be difficult to procure around the holidays if you don’t get in your order early.
It appears that one woman has attempted to capitalise on this fact and make a bit of extra cash by attempting to start her own sneaky Sydney rock oyster side hustle.
The woman kicked off her plan by placing an order with premium Sydney rock oyster producer, East 33, for 300 dozen oysters – which amounts to 3600 oysters in total.
The woman told the company it was for an “event” that she was organising, but in reality her plan was to sell them on to unwitting residents in a boujee Northern Beaches suburb at an inflated price.
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After placing the order, she created a post in an Avalon community Facebook page offering freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters to be delivered on Christmas Eve.
The woman claimed she had a connection to East 33 oyster farm and that all the profits would be going to the oyster farmers.
“As we all know our oyster farmers have been smashed with the qx disease, flooding etc and the best way to support these farmers are by buying there (sic) oysters,” she wrote.
She claimed she had a contact at an oyster farm in Port Stephens that was willing to bring freshly shucked oysters down to Avalon on Christmas Eve.
“I’m just testing the waters to see if people would be interested in buying these oysters. $30 a dozen. Money going directly to the farmer,” she falsely wrote.
East 33 informed news.com.au that the woman would have likely been charged $18-$22 per dozen for the oysters, resulting in her making a profit of between $2400 – $3600.
The woman said anyone who was interested could pick the oysters up from her home on Christmas Eve, saying it would be like a McDonald’s drive through.
“They will be passed in through the window. No need for parking,” she wrote.
The post received a lot of attention, with more than 200 people commenting and indicating they were interested.
In an update to the post, the woman indicated that she had sold out of oysters and couldn’t take any more orders.
“So I’ll be in touch via messenger for payment. Thanks again, I’m positive that we have just made an oyster farmer’s Christmas,” she wrote.
Screenshots of messages between the woman and members of the group shows multiple people confirming they had sent through payment to her through direct bank transfer.
The scheme was brought to the attention of East 33 after a community member reached out to the company, prompting a number of internal inquiries to be made.
The company was then able to connect the large 300 dozens oyster order to the woman selling the oysters on the community page.
“It has been brought to our attention that someone on a Sydney Northern Beaches community
Facebook page has been taking orders for East 33 Sydney rock oysters without the consent or permission of East 33,” the Sydney rock oyster distributor said.
“This person was taking orders by the dozen, procuring payment via direct bank transfer with product pick up to be facilitated from their home on Christmas Eve.”
East 33 employees called the woman and informed her that her order could not be processed as they could not supply bulk oysters to on sell in an unauthorised manner, stating the risk of food poisoning.
“We want to caution consumers against purchasing Sydney rock oysters from anyone other than a fishmonger, seafood market or authorised seafood retailer as there are strict food health and safety protocols required, relating to storage and refrigeration,” the company said.
“East 33 received a bulk order of several thousand oysters for an ‘event’. Once the online selling activity was brought to our attention, we cancelled the order immediately.
“We are not involved in, nor do we condone, the sale of Sydney rock oysters through unapproved and illegitimate channels.”
After her order was cancelled, the woman was forced to backtrack on her promise of Christmas Eve oysters to hundreds of community members.
In order to do this, the woman falsely claimed that the oyster shuckers had “gone down with Covid” and could not fulfil the orders.
She informed the buyers that she would be transferring their money back.
The posts have since been deleted from the community page.
East 33 stated it was “disappointing” to hear the woman claim that the money from the purchase would go direct to oyster farmers, “provided the person involved was marking up the price intending to make a profit”.
Anyone who does want to purchase Sydney rock oysters for Christmas is being urged to support farmers and local businesses by shopping through reputable sources.