Tourism

“We’re all getting robbed”: Vic tourism hit by scam

Hannah Edensor

Hannah Edensor

At least nine tourist attractions in Victoria have been hit hard by a credit card scam, including Eureka Skydeck, Sovereign Hill and Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs.

The scam has gone after Chinese visitors that are integral to Aussie tourism, and cost the industry a fortune.

Per the ABC, the scam works when the crims behind the operation posts cheap discounted tickets on the Chinese version of Facebook called WeChat.

Then they accept payment, keep the dosh, then buy a legitimate ticket using a stolen credit card before sending the ticket to the customer.

Down the track once the owner of the stolen credit card realises what’s happened, they tell banks and demand a refund from the operators, forcing the tourist attraction to issue a refund and yet still provide a service that hasn’t been paid for.

It’s such a complex operation that the fraud is difficult for operators to detect, and per the ABC, a number of operators have been hit without even realising.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) chief executive officer Mark Stone told ABC the scam was first detected two months ago but he believed it could be an ongoing scam that could affect many more around the country.

“We’ve spoken to nine operators and this scam has cost them $400,000, but it is probably much more because it’s likely many operators are unaware of this scam and have therefore been caught out,” he said.

“Eureka Skydeck, Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs and Sovereign Hill have been hit but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“We’ve discovered that this is not only universal, but it’s rife and it’s clearly being targeted at our number one inbound tourist.”

Both the Eureka Skydeck and Sovereign Hill confirmed to the ABC their businesses had been victims of the fraud, costing them thousands of dollars.

Per ABC reports, John Forman, the General Manager of Eureka SkyDeck, said his company had to pay back $22,000 worth of tickets and 13% of online ticket sales just in the last month.

“We’re all getting robbed, it’s very hard to stop,” he said.

“We’ve spoken to Victoria Police. It’s hard for them and banks to stop so we’re in a conundrum at the moment to stop it effectively.”

Per ABC, Chief Executive of Sovereign Hill and the former chairman of Victoria’s Tourism Council Jeremy Johnson said, “It’s hard to keep across all of it. It’s a very hard crime to prevent. You can’t just go down to the police station and report it.”

“The Chinese online ticket sale market is huge. It doesn’t matter how big or small the operator is,” he said.

“When you have tens of thousands of dollars going missing that’s a significant hit for the business.”

It’s believed a larger number of tour operators have reported fraudulent crimes to the police which are currently under investigation.

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

  • John McDonald

    Surely making it a requirement for the cardholder to be present at the venue would mean the venue would not lose out? An imprint could be taken on entry to cover for charge backs.

  • Maxwell Smart

    shows that without a signature or pin, transaction aren’t guaranteed. Beware also of phone sales, ie. taking credit cards over the phone, especially for last minute sales, when the purchaser is not the the person using the service.

  • PeterK4850

    If transacted on lost or stolen cerdit cards, the credit cards would be listed on Visa/MasterCard blacklist and would be rejected.

    It would seem that the attractions are processing the transactions without a direct link to the card systems. It would seem that they are just accepting what comes at point of sale with no verification and are processing card transactions retrospectively after ticket issue.

    Cardholders who do not immediately report lost or stolen cards become liable and cannot reverse transactions. If it has been reported lost or stolen it appears on the blacklist and automatically blocked.

    So these operators through their own actions (I should say, inactions) are exposing themselves and hence becoming victims, when most could be prevented.

  • sting

    …yeah but what if the physical card is not the one stolen but the details of the card… always remember we use credit cards to pay for a lot of things exposing details to a lot of people… as an accommodation provider we issue a waiver stating- we shall check credit card used to pay for this booking on arrival… check in will be refused if credit card presented doesn’t match the credit card details used to pay for the booking… I guess if the physical card was stolen then by the time guests check in the card would have been cancelled… and we always keep a photo copy of the guest’s photo id in our file anyway…. at least they know they can’t get away with any fraud in case..

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