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Agent may have fleeced over $500k from customers

More than 50 people could have been affected by a scam carried out by an online travel agent.


A cyber security expert believes the man running the company behind the alleged scam, Lans Martin, could have scammed over half a million dollars in total from bookings.


Mr Martin


“I personally have spoken to about 50 people and I'd say there would be more,” Simon Smith told A Current Affair.


“It's gone on too long and it should end and it should end right now.” One of the victims, Marta Riquelme, was searching for a trip away for her wedding anniversary trip when she saw a special deal advertised by a business called Travelalot on Facebook.


“We thought, oh yeah, we'll take the opportunity to celebrate that and also to have a great time,” the 71-year-old pensioner told A Current Affair.


“I actually called two of our very close friends and I told them about this very great deal.”


According to Nine Digital, Ms Riquelme and her friends had paid over $2,000 for flights and accommodation to Bali, when just two weeks out from their trip, her and her husband received an email telling them their holiday had been cancelled due to a “technical error”.


Ms Riquelme & her husband


“We were devastated, because we were so looking forward to spent the six of us a nice holiday in Bali,” she said.


“It wasn't a good feeling at all.”


Ms Riquelme and her husband then encountered trouble when they tried to get a refund.


“They weren't going to be able to refund the money and another two weeks and another two weeks and that went on and on and on for nearly a year,” she said.  “All the anguish that he put us through ... it was very upsetting.”


Just two days before she was due to meet Mr Martin in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Court, Ms Riquelme got her money back.


Images Nine Digital / ACA 


Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 14 May 2018

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