Last November, police alerted the community to the scamming operations of fake holiday companies Tovar Travel, Malaysia and Alaskas Travel. Now, “Diamond Traveling” has emerged, with the same scam operating behind a glossy website and phoney winning lottery tickets. “The last report we had was in November 2011 and while the names of the companies involved are likely to be changed, their scamming practice stays the same,” says Detective Inspector Greg Hutchins, officer in charge of SAPOL’s Financial Investigation Section, Commercial & Electronic Crime Branch.
“These scams come in waves and the current scam is just a rehash of earlier scams. During February and March this year further victims have been fleeced.”
“Four different companies have been detected in the past 18 months and we are warning people to be very cautious about transferring money to sources they do not know.”
Detective Inspector Hutchins says it appears the money is going to China.
“In a recent case, a victim transferred A$24,000 in the hope of securing US$160,000.”
“These travel web sites set up for scams are quite impressive. They look legitimate with working links, lovely glossy pictures and mostly well written comments, so they lead victims to believing they are genuine.”
“Vigilance and common sense is necessary. People should not part with their money without researching the full facts. Be particularly suspicious of international lotteries, especially if you did not enter them. The golden rule is, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Travel brochure and bogus winning ticket
So how do scams like “Diamond Traveling” work? Here’s the step by step scam process:
1. The scammers send the victim a personally addressed envelope with a glossy brochure, generally about a Malaysian travel company celebrating their anniversary.
2. The brochure tells the victim that as a “valued member” of the travel group, they have been given two scratchy tickets, for a chance to win a cash prize or other prizes to the value of US$230,000.
3. Surprise! The victim scratches the tickets and one of the panels reveals they’ve won a prize; in this case, US$160,000.
4. The victim is instructed to ring to claim their prize. When they ring, the operator states a mistake has been made and the tickets were incorrectly sent.
5. The victim is told they are not entitled to the prize as they are not a member of the travel group.
6. But wait, the operator becomes sympathetic and says they will speak to their supervisor.
7. The operator comes back to say since the victim has the winning ticket, then it’s only fair they get the prize, BUT, to enable that to happen, there are just the taxes and /or fees that will have to be paid.
8. The victim does that, transferring money via money transfer as requested. A short time later, the scammers contact the victim again, and ask for a bit more ; there’s just some further fees to be paid before they can release the money. So the victim transfers more money….. and that’s the last the victim hears of their money.
If you have lost money in a scam or have information about similar scams, please report it to police at BankSA Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online at www.sa.crimestoppers.gov.au
General Tips to stay scam free:
× ALWAYS get independent advice if an offer involves significant money, time or commitment.
× Remember there are no get-rich-quick schemes: the only people who make money are the scammers.
× Be suspicious of International lotteries, especially if you did not enter them.
× Be suspicious whenever you are asked to send money. Check it out thoroughly. You need to ask questions and think carefully before you decide what to do.
× Do not agree to offers or deals straight away: tell the caller that you are not interested or that you want to get some independent advice before making a decision.
× Do not let anyone pressure you into making decisions about money or investments: always get independent financial advice. When your money has gone to a scammer, it’s unlikely you’ll get it back.
× NEVER send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust.
× Check your bank account and credit card statements when you get them. If you see a transaction you cannot explain, report it to your credit union or bank.
× Keep your credit and ATM cards safe
× You can contact your local office of fair trading, ASIC or the ACCC for assistance or visit www.scamwatch.gov.au. SCAMWATCH is a Government based web site which provides information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams.
Recent scam cases:
Feb 2012 Case 4: Diamond Traveling
× Victim receives “winning scratchies” worth US$160,000 each.
× Three victims in South Australia have lost approximately A$28,000.00. One victim lost over A$15,000.00. There are victims in other states of Australia.
October 2011 Case 3: ALASKAS TRAVEL
× Victim receives “winning scratchies” worth US$150,000 each
× Victim sent over A$3,000 via money transfer
August 2011 Case 2: Cystic Travel
× Victim receives scratchies; “wins” US$150,000
× Victim sent over A$18,000 via money transfer
April 2011 Case 1: Tovar Travel, Malaysia
× Victim received scratchy tickets in the mail, one revealed prize of US$150,000.
× Victim made three payments to secure his winnings, totalling US$18,000
source: sa police news