There’s a trial underway in New South Wales which apes Boris Johnson’s “Eat out to help out” stimulus from earlier in the year.
The NSW version is the “Dine and discover” programme.
It’s being trialled in The Rocks area of Sydney, later to be rolled out to the rest of the state.
It differs from the UK version however, as the business categories eligible for the stimulus are far greater, including “scenic and sightseeing transport”, “recreational activities such as go-karting, indoor climbing, mini-golf, billiards, bowling or ice-rinks”, “outdoor adventures”, and “travel agencies and tours“.
Can anyone see a flaw in the scope of the trial and what do we think happens next?
There are plenty of pubs and restaurants in The Rocks, but go-karting and outdoor adventures? Not so many. Similarly, there’s not a huge number of travel and touring businesses based out of the small historic part of Sydney.
Why is this a problem?
Well, what won’t be tested as these $25 vouchers are rolled out is whether there’s an opportunity for misuse and fraud.
Anyone who’s ever previously met another human will instinctively know the axiom, if fraud is possible and a large enough number of people are involved, fraud will occur.
It’s an absolute certainty there will be multiple cases of newly-registered or previously dormant businesses making a load of free money from innovative use of these vouchers.
At its simplest, a scam might simply launder part of the $25 back to the consumer, say, $20 in cash back to you while my “scenic tour business” pockets a fiver and nobody says anything.
More imaginative minds than mine will be working on various elaborate and profitable versions of this idea right now.
This is little league stuff compared with some of the Bernie Madoff-esque scams surely underway already in financial markets, though.
2021 is going to be the “everything bubble” party. Perhaps 2022 is when the hangover kicks in?