Internet holiday scam shut down

The British High Court has wound up six Internet-based holiday companies that sold millions of pounds worth of holidays online which subsequently failed to materialize.

The companies, which were based both in the UK and overseas, initially referred customers to a central Web site -- www.qualycon.net -- although other sites including Go-travelmasters.com; Travelmasters.com; Intersun.co.uk; Leisuremakers.co.uk and Leisuremasters.net.uk were also used.

The scam, involved inviting potential customers to sales presentations with the promise of a 'free' holiday. Customers were then persuaded to pay for a so called 'key', which gave them a username and password which would allow access to websites offering massive discounts on holidays.

The key cost a massive £6,000 (AUD$16,800), and customers had no right to cancel. A cheaper key was offered for limited, as opposed to lifetime, membership, which cost around £2,000 (AUD$5,625) for 25 years.

But when the documents provided to customers were investigated, most of the claims they made were found to be false. For example, Travelmasters, the company behind the scam, claimed to be both Abta and Atol bonded and to have originated from genuine former holiday chain Intasun. It was also found that the savings promised didn't actually exist and that the money paid by customers was sent to bank accounts in Spain and Gibraltar.

Commenting on the case Consumer Minister, Melanie Johnson, warned: "People need to beware of unscrupulous holiday clubs that promise a lifetime of impossibly cheap holidays in exotic locations."

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