We received an email in mid-December from someone who was worried that they had been scammed:
Sadly, it took us about 2 minutes to work that there was a big problem. The first thing we did was go to the website and look at the images of the property that had been booked, we downloaded the image and used Google image search to see if that image was anywhere else on the internet and if it was actually the property listed. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, in fact the images belonged to another property called Balegia which rents out for more than £20,000 per week. We called company up, there was no answer, another terrible sign. Finally, we investigated their company listing and the listed Director. This led to a conversation with their auditors who confirmed that the company had nothing to do with the website and it was identity theft.
The misappropriation of images is unfortunately becoming more and more common on the web. Below is a great example where a very plush looking website called “Chalets Exclusive” and is advertising a chalet called “Leggo Penthouse” with the following image:
Which is remarkably similar to:
The first website offers the apartment for a week in March at approx. £7,000, the second website list it at £20,000 for the week. When it looks too good to be true, it’s not!
So, we went back with our evidence and confirmed the member’s worse fears and advised him to contact his bank immediately, explicitly use the word “Fraud”, explicitly insist that they contact the recipient bank and show the evidence of fraud, which we had sent. In this case he was very lucky, the monies had not been credited yet to the recipient and were being held in an account. He got all his money back.
What can we learn from this experience?
- It’s definitely worth reading the “Reassura Guide to Safely Booking Accommodation”
- Don’t be fooled by plush looking websites
- Never pay by bank transfer
And, the final lesson is, after this the member came back to us with 3 websites that he was thinking of booking with to see if they were legitimate. Two out of the three were highly suspicious. This demonstrates how many scam sites are out there and how careful we all need to be.