Tourist operators reeling from the pandemic have copped a second hit: the re-emergence of a social media scam which targets the Chinese community with fraudulent offers of discounts to some of Victoria’s most popular attractions.
The scam works like this. A fake travel company places a sponsored ad on WeChat offering a discounted ticket or promotional offer for a popular tourist attraction. Unsuspecting customers – often Chinese students – transfer money into an Australian bank account held by the fake company. The fraudsters then book the attraction in the customer’s name using stolen credit card details.
If the scam is detected before the customer makes use of their ticket, the customer is out of pocket. More commonly, it takes days or weeks for the real card owner to discover they have been charged for something they didn’t buy and contact the bank. In this instance, the bank cancels the transaction and the tourist operator is left out of pocket.
“The surprising thing is this has been going on for a long time and there has never been any significant measures to try and shut this down,″ Victorian Tourism Industry Council chief executive Felicia Mariani told The Sunday Age.
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