The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) on Monday issued a warning about a Sydney-based Web site that seems to offer discount flights but is actually a scam.
According to ASIC, a company called "New Flights Limited" that is advertising cheap flights on its Web site, is a scammer posing as a legitimate company. In reality, the scammers running the site were based in the US. They used the term "limited" in the company name to add some authenticity but had actually purchased tickets for their "customers" using stolen credit cards.
Delia Rickard, the ASIC's deputy executive director of consumer protection, said that this is just one of many Web sites that have been set up for the sole purpose of committing fraud.
"This particular Web site has since been shut down but people should be wary about copycat sites popping-up," said Rickard in a statement. "One of the simplest ways to ensure you don't get burned by a holiday scam is to check the provider of the discounted airfare is indeed a registered company".
"Consumers need to be aware of fake companies advertising on the Internet, which promise to save you hundreds on your flight but leave you stranded at the airport with nothing but a worthless ticket," said Rickard.
If users suspect that a Web site may be fraudulent -- or the deals are "too good to be true" -- then they are advised by ASIC to "conduct a free search on the National Names Index on ASIC's website at www.asic.gov.au or call 1300 300 630" before booking their flights.
"You'll be able to find out whether that 'company' really is a 'company'. A quick check may prevent you from falling into a trap and help you to take off sooner and enjoy your hard-earned holiday," Rickard added.
Last month, the ASIC said that that the number of people complaining about phishing Web sites had increased significantly as scammers developed more elaborate techniques to con people out of their personal details.
In April, ASIC warned that a number of international companies were targeting Australian Internet users with risky investment schemes.