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MEDIA RELEASE warns of holiday scams

With the summer holidays fast approaching record number of Australians are headed overseas. Ben Rosier, travel expert at warns holidaymakers to beware of tricks and scams that can wreck a trip of a lifetime.

“In a foreign country people let their guard down, relax, and often behave in a way they never would back home – leaving them open to highly-organised tourist scams,” says Ben.

“These scams often play on the traveller’s kind and trusting nature, their desire to save on holiday purchases, and their lack of local knowledge.”

Michael McAuliffe, executive director at insurance provider SureSave, says it is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of Australians who fall victim to scams overseas as travellers often don't realise they’ve been caught out until it is too late and many are simply too embarrassed to admit being fooled by a simple con.

“All it takes is a momentary lapse of judgement to fall prey to scammers, and yet you might regret it for a very long time,” says Mr McAullife.

The key piece of advice is to keep your wits about you and learn from past travellers’ mistakes and, if in doubt, call the police.

Common cons:
Fake Police: If a traveller finds themselves being accused of a crime they didn’t commit, chances are they’re dealing with a counterfeit cop. A common story is that fake police might charge an over the top, on-the-spot fine for putting out a cigarette in public. Always check the officer’s ID and contact the real police if you have any doubts.

Gem Scams: En route to their official destination dodgy tuk-tuk or taxi drivers take travellers to stores where they are offered deals that are literally too good to be true. The so called Gem Scam can actually involve any high-priced or desirable item such as leather goods or "authentic" carpets. Victims soon discover their "jewels" may be nothing more than polished glass and those larger items, well; they never make it back home.

Distraction: These can be anything from a child waving a paper in your face to an old woman needing assistance or a local helping you wipe mess off your shirt. While you are distracted, a second crook comes in and swipes your stuff. The key to making it out with all your valuables intact is to pay careful attention to your belongings and others around you.

Bar Scams: These can take a variety of forms, but the basics involve a traveller, usually male, being approached by locals who invite them for a drink in a bar. After a few drinks the locals are gone and the traveller is left with a ridiculously large bill.

Taxis: Some of the most common taxi scams are inflating fares or telling passengers their selected hotel/bar/restaurant is closed – but, never fear, they know a better one. Always travel in licenced taxis and if there is not a meter, agree on a fixed fare before departure. Also, insist on going to your original destination and see if it’s closed for yourself. searches and compares the best value holidays by working with more than 300 travel partners to find the most affordable travel flight and travel packages.

Today’s Hot Deals at

Return flights to Vanuatu from Sydney from - $565. Includes taxes. For travel from 1 February until 31 May 2013.
Return flights to Los Angeles from Melbourne – from $1128. Including taxes. For travel until 28 November 2012.
Return flights to Las Vegas from Sydney from $1526. For travel from 27 November to 2 December 2012.
Return flights to Fiji from Sydney from $550. Includes taxes. For travel between 2 February and 26 March 2013. Fares from other ports are from $617-Brisbane; $733-Melbourne; $831-Adelaide.


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