Australia’s largest holiday house rental site has warned consumers to be wary of a sophisticated ‘phishing’ scam that takes their money but leaves them without a place to stay. Stayz.com.au says the scammers con its holiday house owners into handing over their login details. Armed with access, the identity thieves then enter the account and change contact details so that booking inquiries are directed their way.

At this point they handle all liaison with the prospective client. Credibility is enhanced through the use of slick, forged collateral while the fakes are also experts at closing a “sale”.

One tactic is to say there’s no room at the chosen property while offering a much better place for the same price. The catch is it must be booked that day.

The money is then transferred to an untraceable bank account. No-one is aware of the scam until the holidaymakers turn up for the holiday house that never was.

TravelTrends.biz spoke with one operator who said: “We’ve had at least five or six properties that this has happened to. They know nothing until the guests turned up without a booking.”

Stayz.com.au GM Antonish Stanish says 0.1% of the site’s owners had been scammed and that “it’s an industry-wide thing”.

Mr Stanish says his company has done everything to find those who have been duped alternative accommodation.

There are prominent security advisories on Stayz.com.au urging consumers to take precautions, including speaking with the property owner.

He says police have been notified but it’s been “really difficult” to get them involved.

“I don’t think they have the resources,” he said.

It’s strongly believed the scammers are based overseas.

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