At least two groups of punters who attended the Bunbury leg of Groovin the Moo last weekend were targeted by an online scam, falsely advertising people’s homes as holiday accommodation without their knowledge.
Reports the ABC, two groups of people from Perth “paid hundreds of dollars” to rent the Gelmi family’s four-bedroom Bunbury home this past weekend, but the family had no knowledge that their home was being advertised as festival accommodation on the unnamed website.
“We were just so shocked,” Kerry Gelmi said. “We had no idea up until that point that our house had been advertised.” According to police, once punters sent the money, the seller stopped responding to emails and calls. The advertisement had disappeared once the police were contacted.
Amazingly the family opened their home to the duped punters anyway, pulling out “air mattresses and swags” for them. “They would have been angry and it’s not like there was anywhere else for them to stay, Bunbury was booked out,” said Kerry Gelmi.
WA Consumer Protection south-west coordinator Debbie Butler said the scam is a new variation on previous rental and ticketing ploys. “It used to be ticket scalping and now it’s accommodation scalping,” she said.
It is a criminal offence, but she warned punters to do their due diligence before going ahead with paying for things online. “The problem is once it’s only via email, it could be coming from the middle of Nigeria,” Bunbury police Sergeant Laurie Seton added. “The only lead we have in this case is the bank account details.”
Punters aware of any similar instances have been urged to come forward to police and can seek a refund from the bank if they paid by credit card.
Groovin the Moo will travel to Bendigo and Canberra this weekend before heading to Maitland, despite the weather, and Townsville next week.