Online Hotel Scammers Grab £145m From Travellers

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Hotel booking scams are costing expats and business visitors millions of pounds a year, according to a hotel trade body.

Travellers all over the world turn up at a hotel reception or holiday let only to find that they have no reservation.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association reckons more than 2.5 million travellers a year are scammed in the US alone – and that fraudsters are getting away with £145 million.

Now, they are asking Congress to take action to protect consumers.

The most common scam is for a visitor to book a hotel room online through a bogus web site set up to look like the real trader’s online store.

Booking.com

“The sites look just like what you would expect, with the right branding, logos and everything,” said Maryam Cope, a vice-president with the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

“Because many bookings are made on small smartphones or tablets, people can’t see the giveaways like missing options and comparisons.”

Some fraudsters just take the consumer’s reservation fee, while others reserve the room but skim off the cost of any extras paid online.

“If in doubt, call the hotel directly rather than use an online booking site,” said Cope.

Border clashes

Expats in Saudi Arabia should keep at least five miles away from the border with Yemen due to armed clashes between border patrols and militants, warns the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Saudi Arabia has spearheaded air strikes and other military action against rebels at the request of Yemen’s President Hadi.

In response, the rebels have shot Saudi police and soldiers in skirmishes near the border.

Travel may also be disrupted as small airports near the border are often closed without warning due to the troubles.

Nepal update

Following the devastating earthquake in Nepal, heavy rains have made conditions in many areas worse by washing away roads and bridges.

The FCO suggests expats and visitors should leave the country unless they are visiting on essential business.
Find latest travel warnings

  • To check out the latest British government worldwide travel warnings, go to the FCO web site and select a country
  • The US government also issues regular travel warnings online
  • For ABTA travel information, visit their web site

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