Social media scam rips off Victorian tourism businesses

AUSTRALIA’S best-loved tourist attractions are being targeted by a sophisticated social media scam which is ripping hundreds of thousands of dollars from Victorian businesses.

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Victoria Tourism Industry Council are warning against the multi-million dollar scam which was discovered recently to have affected attractions including the Eureka Skydeck and the Peninsula Hot Springs.

The scammers, who are running their operation through messaging app WeChat, sell fake tickets to major events and attractions to genuine tourists at seemingly discounted prices, before stealing their credit card details and using them to buy real tickets.

Businesses then have to refund the cost of the ticket to the credit card owner, and absorb the losses.

Nine businesses have already reported a total loss of more than $350,000.

VCCI chief executive Mark Stone said the scam was hurting business across the country.

“Some of our most famous tourism attractions, like the penguin parade at Phillip Island, are getting defrauded every day, to the point where they have people checking online bookings before the doors open to suspend tickets they believe may have been fraudulently paid for,” he said.

Victorian Chamber chief executive Mark Stone. Picture: Alex Coppel

“This is a sophisticated scam where there is no limit as to who could be affected, and we have concerns that any Australian businesses that provide a ticketing system or service payable online could be targeted.”

Sovereign Hill in Ballarat is just one of the Victorian attractions targeted by scammers, who are based in China.

Business operators who believe they may have fallen victim to the scam are being urged to contact the VTIC.

Originally published as Social media scam rips off tourism businesses

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