May 19, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

Complete Canadian News World

He thought he was booking a luxury villa, but was cheated out of $7,700.

He thought he was booking a luxury villa, but was cheated out of $7,700.

This text is a translation of an article from CTV News

“I was very angry about it and it felt very real,” said Barry Goode of Tiny, Ont., near Midland.

Mr Goode was looking for accommodation in Costa Rica on Booking.com when he came across a luxury villa for rent.

Mr. Goode said that we have decided to go to Costa Rica for three weeks at the end of January.

The villa he saw got good reviews. Booking.com found 61 other reviews that gave it a rating of 9.8.

When Mr. Goode contacted the owner to reserve the villa, the owner indicated that he preferred to communicate via WhatsApp.

“So we were directed to WhatsApp and we started making payments through that,” explained Mr Goode.

Mr. Goode wired $7,736 to book the vacation spot, but then he couldn't get information about the villa and the listing was changed.

“The day after I accused them of using fake photos and fake ads, the photos changed. They all changed for my reservation,” said Mr. Goode.

When Mr Goode complained to Booking.com, he was told he should not wire the funds and offered $500 in compensation, which he refused.

See also | Quebec is experiencing a “worrying” rise in fraud

Travel expert Loren Christie explains that once you operate outside of a travel website, you lose many protections.

“It doesn't matter if it's Booking.com or Airbnb, you should always communicate 100% through the booking platform,” said Loren Christie, before adding: “Never send money independently. You should always make sure the money is sent through the platform.

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After CTV News Toronto contacted Booking.com, Mr. Goode received an email from the company saying, “After reviewing the claim and the information on file, we will resolve this matter by providing a full refund of $7735.86.”

Mr. Goode was relieved to get his money back. “It's such a relief,” he said.

Booking.com also told CTV News in a statement: “Our top priority is to ensure our platform is safe, secure and reliable. After investigating this customer's case, we discovered suspicious activity related to their reservation and worked with the affected customer to issue a full refund. Online fraud continues to be a problem in many industries and is not unique to Booking.com, however we are fully committed to proactively helping our customers with our customer service team available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

“We recommend that you carefully check the payment terms indicated on the property overview page and in the booking confirmation. If the property appears to be requesting a payment other than that stated in the confirmation, contact our customer service”

“Remember, the customer is not required to provide their credit card details via phone, email or text message (including WhatsApp).”

Scammers often create fake listings by stealing photos from legitimate websites. If you can, always try to pay with a credit card, as you'll be better protected if something goes wrong.

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