20 Apr 2006

Samoa tourist businesses hit by booking scam

4:01 pm on 20 April 2006

The Samoa Hotel Association says the tourism industry is losing out on thousands of dollars because of an international booking scam.

The association's administration manager, Nynette Sass, says the scam artists make bulk bookings.

However, she says the transfer of funds to pay for the booking takes at least four days to go through the bank.

Ms Sass says the scammers then cancel the booking and ask for a refund before any money has gone through, and tourism operators pay out.

She says a number of hotel and car rental companies have been caught out.

"It's very common. But we are always working very closely with our banks, we've sent out notices to our members and tourism industry people and forewarning them if they are unsure to get in touch with me at the office and I can do my own checks into potential clients."

Nynette Sass says she believes the scam bookings seem to be coming from Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast.