Belinda thought she had won $190,000. Then she read the fine print


At first, Belinda Wrigley was intrigued by the glossy travel brochure posted from Malaysia which arrived in her letter box.

The brochure was from a travel company called Sweet Summer Tour and contained two scratchies, part of a promotion to celebrate the organisation's 13th year in business.

Mrs Wrigley and her husband Luke were thrilled when she scratched one of the tickets to find she'd won second prize in the contest, a cash gift of $US190,000 ($A242,000).

"It looked legitimate," she said. "It was very professionally presented. We hoped it was real. Who doesn't want to win $190,000? Then we started to look into it and the alarm bells started to ring."

The Ryde couple undertook some online sleuthing and discovered the website for Sweet Summer Tour had only recently been created, which seemed deeply suspicious for a company supposedly marking its 13th year in business.

"Much as we wanted it to be genuine, we realised it was dodgy," she said.

"We looked at their website and it had only been created recently. We looked at scratchie scams and they were almost identical to this one."

The competition's terms and conditions were also dubious, stating that winners would be obliged to "submit taxes or any other mandatory charges as a result of the award".

"That did seem a bit shady," she said.

The company, which "has grand aspirations for this coming year" according to its promotional material, lists well-known brands as its partners in the competition.

The promotional material includes the logos and brand names of "official partners" including IT giant Seagate and TripAdvisor.

A spokeswoman for Seagate said the company was considering taking action against the company.

"Seagate is not involved now, and has never had any involvement, in any capacity, with Sweet Summer Tour. Their use of our name and logo is not authorised. We are considering appropriate action against Sweet Summer Tour to prevent any further insinuation that we are a partner."

A spokeswoman for TripAdvisor said: "TripAdvisor has no association to Sweet Summer Tour whatsoever and is not part of this promotion."

Sweet Summer Tour lists its street address as an office in Kuala Lumpur's Mid Valley Megamall, however a search of businesses in the mall retrieves no such company.

The company's promotional material states 100,000 brochures have been posted to addresses in the Asia Pacific.

Mrs Wrigley posted her "winning" ticket on Facebook to alert others to potentially being ripped off.

"I put the pictures on Facebook to warn other people," she said. "It was very convincing. I can see how people would easily be roped in by this."

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's website names scratchie scams as one of the most common tricks in the con artist's arsenal.

"Scratchie scams take the form of fake scratchie cards that promise some sort of prize, on the condition that the 'winner' pays a collection fee," it states.

Scratchie scams netted $12,000 from unsuspecting Australian consumers in August alone, the ACCC has found. The majority of people were scammed through scratchies which arrived at their postal address.

Fairfax Media has contacted Sweet Summer Tour, which has not responded.

The story Belinda thought she had won $190,000. Then she read the fine print first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide