Holiday scams

Byron bay northern NSW, one of Australia's most popular tourist destinations. A sleepy seaside village that explodes at holiday time with visitors from across the country, but now a target for scammers.

For 15 years Deborah has owned one of Byron's most luxurious accommodations, a two house complex called verandah's -normally rooms here cost between $950 and $1500 a night.

But scammers hijacked an advertisement on the holiday rental website stayz, trying to rip holiday makers off by masquerading as verandahs.

Stayz is one of Australia's largest on-line holiday rental websites, verandahs like thousands of others were listed there.

That's where Angela Morgan found verandah's to book for a re-union next Easter, Angela had no idea she had been diverted to a scammer who offered rooms at a price too good to ignore.

She booked and received this contract by email; it too was a shonky document. The contract asked Angela to pay $14-hundred dollars deposit, the money was to be paid to Denis Lolan who claimed he owned verandah's. He listed his address as an apartment in London and wanted the money paid into this bank also in London. That's when Angela smelled a rat, she contacted Deborah who had no idea she too was being scammed.

Deputy chair of the ACC Delia Rickard has already had 500 complaints about holiday scams that have ripped off 300-thousand dollars but she expects a lot more. Holiday scams were once just a cottage industry, but thanks to the internet they've become an international plague.

Cold calls offering fake travel deals, to bogus vouchers being offered for trips that just don't exist.

It's not the first time stayz has had a problem with cyber scammers. But it insists that with 200-thousand bookings a year the incidence of fraud is very low. But the site advises people booking holidays to ensure they verify their trips by contacting the advertisers in person.

www.scamwatch.gov.au