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.