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Max, a 32 year old finance professional, found himself ensnared in a nasty holiday booking scam that cost not only him - but his friends too. Here’s his story, and his advice for how to avoid a similar scam.
“A group of ten of us planned a trip to Paris to watch a major sporting event. I’ve always been seen as the more organised one in the group - the sort to share pension tips rather than set up pub trips - and so as usual took charge of arranging everything for the holiday, including the accommodation.
“The tournament led to rooms across the city being booked up and prices were high. I felt a bit nervous, and didn’t want to report back that the best I could do was a poky two star hotel slightly out of town.
“As I was about to give up, I spotted something that seemed too good to be true. Scrolling a popular booking platform, I found a luxurious place near the Champs Elysees for a very good price. Thinking it a no brainer, I booked.
“Unusually, the host said I had to pay off the booking platform. He also said I must pay within twenty-four hours to secure the accommodation, demanding £900. Feeling panicked, and then still using my bank to send money overseas, I called my bank and arranged the payment.
“It was only after I made this payment that I started to get an uneasy feeling. Things didn’t seem right. This was made worse when I went to check the accommodation, only to see that the page had been deleted. It dawned on me - this was a scam.
“The booking platform was unable to help me because the payment had been made off of their platform. I contacted my bank, but they were also unable to help. The money was lost, something made worse by it being my friends’ money as well as my own. We ended up staying somewhere worse than the poky hotel, instead confined to a place blighted by an odd smell and torn off sinks.
“I never thought I was the type of person to fall for a scam. I thought I was aware. But looking back, I can see all the red flags. As a result, I have become more aware - and I try to help educate my friends and family too. I wish, though, I hadn’t needed to be scammed to learn these lessons.
“My advice? If you think it’s too good to be true, it usually is. Oh - and pay on the booking platform.”
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