NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe is warning accommodation providers of a new accommodation booking scam.

Stowe warns business owners to be wary of potential customers who are requesting unusual methods of payment and seeking to book boutique accommodation for long periods of time.

A small bed and breakfast owner contacted Fair Trading when they received a strange email booking request from a consumer.

This consumer was based in Scotland and requested to book a room at the bed and breakfast for two weeks. When discussing payment options, the consumer asked to pay more than the required amount for the room via a cheque. They claimed this was due to their business providing one cheque to cover other travelling expenses. The consumer indicated they would be seeking a refund of the excess amount.

In this situation, typically the accommodation provider issues the refund of the excess amount after payment is received, only to find that the cheque is dishonoured.

In this case the bed and breakfast owner contacted Fair Trading and was advised not to proceed with the transaction as it had all the hallmarks of a similar scam that was targeting caravan park operators earlier this year.

“It’s concerning to see how crafty and deceitful these email scams are becoming. We encourage business owners to exercise caution when taking accommodation bookings and raise any concerns with Fair Trading,” Stowe said.

Reports can be made to NSW FairTrading, SCAMwatch or the Australian Cybercrime Online Report Network (ACORN). These organisations’ websites also contain information on the various types of scams and how consumers can protect themselves.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management