BLOG: Christmas 2011 Cheque Fraud attempt (Scam Alert)

As an owner or manager of a holiday rental, you need to be aware of possible scams that affect your business. Scams of various types have been around for years, but every so often there is a lift in sophistication - so it pays to keep us with what’s happening. Here are details of a scam attempted on Bookastay Australia users during Christmas 2011. Whilst the specifics may not be repeated on you, there are some important traits that will help you spot a scammer.

In this scam several owner/manager members of Bookastay Australia were contacted by a PASTER MARTINS PETERS (contact always in capital letters) with a bogus booking.  He emails that he will get his ‘Sponser’ to forward a cheque for payment through DHL Express.

“Thanks for your quick response.i am ok with your price and
accomodation.just talked to my sponsor now and he said the mode of
payment is thru check.kindly send me the name to be on the check and the
address to send it to(will prefer a physical address for courier
delivery instead of po box ) so it can be arranged asap for it earlier
clearance.thanks”

DHL Express deliver a cheque sent from America - but on an Australian Bank - St George Bank - payer: Golden Rams Australia Pty Ltd. NOTE:  Cheque was made out for $3500.00 - booking was for $600.  (Only a cheque was in the parcel delivered by DHL - nothing else at all).

The scammer emails:

“HELLO

PAYMENT HAS BEEN SEND TO YOU.THE TRACKING NUMBER IS 7443174465   AND YOU CAN TRACK IT ON http://WWW.DHL.COM

KINDLY LET ME KNOW IMMEDIATELY YOU RECEIVE THE CHECK COS WE STILL HAVE A LOT TO DISCUSS.

REGARDS
PASTOR MARTINS”

scam cheque

Contact with St George Bank proved the cheque is fraudulent and so is the account number.  The Cheque was sent from: Wanda Ayala, 1011 Silverwood Rd NW, Roanoke VA 24017, United States.

Clearly the next part of the scam (which was unsuccessful) would be to ‘discover’ the mistake in the amount of the deposit and ask for a refund – before the owner/manager discovers that the cheque is a fraud.

It’s a common kind of scam, but has a air of plausibility about it – such that it does catch out the unsuspecting from time to time – so please be vigilant - especially when accepting bookings from overseas.

Thanks to Bookastay members for assisting in this.

Avoiding scams

Scams are usually aimed at either extracting money or information such as personal details and bank account information from you. Scammers can be creative - and often very plausible. Please be vigilant!  Here are some warning signs to look for:

1) Dodgy email address: email addresses from the major free services (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail) that don’t clearly identify someone’s name, or just don’t look right, e.g. a jklww2ww@hotmail.com or an address with a few seemingly random alpha-numeric characters.

2) Poorly written English, but from someone with a seemingly English or European sounding first / last names. This is likely to be your biggest cue to be alert !

3) Grand titles: Dr., Prof. or even Sir or Lady, or Director, Chairman - or even Reverend or Father! . It seems all scammers are medics, academics, royalty, VIPS or clergy in their alter-egos!

4) Payment by Travellers Cheque, Personal Cheque or Credit Card - and accompanied by a request for you to help out in unusual ways (arrange flights, insurance etc.)

 

What to do if you believe you are being scammed or have lost money

1) Please tell us at Bookastay, this is something that we take very seriously. We may be able to help, especially in determining whether it’s a scam or not. Also we need to be aware of what possible scams are being attempted on our users.

2) Alert the police - although it is likely that they will refer you to Scamwatch (see below).

3) Alert the team at Scamwatch http://www.scamwatch.com.au.  You can also post the details of the Scam directly to this website.