Getting scammed: when travel doesn’t go according to plan

I travel a lot. So it goes without saying that I book a lot of holidays – accommodation, flights, trains, the whole kit and caboodle.

And no-one can travel a lot, or work in travel, without knowing about the holiday scams about – villas which don’t exist, hotels which aren’t quite built yet, photos which don’t look anything like the reality, and cyber fraud.

A different kind of fishing...

A different kind of fishing…

While I don’t think I was cocky (who knows, maybe I was), I knew the ways to protect myself, to spot a scam. At least, I thought I did. As it turns out… I didn’t.

Because the trip I was supposed to be taking tomorrow, to a cottage in the countryside to celebrate my husband’s milestone birthday (no, not 21…) is now cancelled. Technically it never existed in the first place.

As I discovered yesterday, the genuine owner of the cottage listed on a major accommodation rental website had never received my enquiry, my booking, my signed contract or more importantly, my payment. They had all been intercepted by frausters in a phishing scam, who had picked up my first message, taken my money and vanished.

I’m currently in the process of trying to reclaim that money. But whatever happens, the planned celebration won’t and that’s devastating.

birthday-cake-candles-celebrateWe’ll still celebrate, of course, and my wonderful family and friends have rallied round to offer help and sympathy galore despite having to cancel hotel bookings and rearrange travel plans of their own.

We’re far from alone and a lot of stories are worse – people stranded abroad without accommodation, or left to discover the fraud when they turn up with their kids in tow. As I dig a bit deeper, I suspect there might be more posts to come…

For now, the focus is on birthday plan B. Even if it’s not quite the way I planned it.


Image: Todd Ehlers/Flickr; crabchick/Flickr