HELP - How to determine Scam or Legit. booking?

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06/24/2008

If this is a scam this scammer is doing things quite differently than any other.  Here are the details, please provide any ideas how I can verify it being legit without creating a problem if it IS legit.

Received a phone call with a UK #.  British sounding individual introduced herself with name and being with Am eric an Ex press travel.  Asking about 2 rooms (even gave the 2 room names) for 4 nights for certain dates this month.  Asked for business rate, 1 person each.  After providing rate & details she said that she would check with the clients and would EMAIL me the reservation and would put the CC in 2 sep. emails for security.  I stressed the security of our online booking system would be the preferred method. 

I felt that would be the end of it, but within the hour received 2 emails providing the names of the guests and the CC # w/exp broken into the 2 emails.  Her (the agent) contact details were provided.  And the name of the company these individuals were connected.  This company is worldwide and has a local office not far from here. 

Here are the red flags:

  • of course the emails providing the CC, seems unlikely for a professional TA
  • the card provided was a MC
  • info not provided: name on card, billing address, contact info of guests
  • checked the IATA # and it does not meet the standard format or number requirements
  • UK phone number provided to agent is 1 number shy of number requirements. 
  • UK phone number provided is different than the one listed on caller ID and also different than the # listed online for the office claimed in the email.

I wrote back stating I needed the additional information (billing info) and suggested that for security purposes she should either call me back with the details or complete an online booking as I am unable to complete the reservation without this data.  I lied blushand said I tried the number provided but it was an incomplete number. 

Any thoughts on this?  How, other than making an overseas phone call to the number listed online of the travel agency (address given in email was same as what is posted online, phone number was different), can I check if she is an agent and if her IATA is correct?   Or should I bother? 

 

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06/24/2008

FYI - the 2 business guests for this reservation are here.  The Brit said HE found me after the business office he was to visit told him 'there is a nice HI in (insert my town)'  So then he Googled and found me, then called the TA to book it.  He said 'I can stay at a HI or any ole hotel any time.' 

So this all to say sometimes these crazy sounding reservations are for real so check them out while remaining cautious. 

Highlands John's picture
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04/16/2010

yes

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06/24/2008

Interesting.  Received 2 emails this am with all the information I requested, including the 3 digit code.  I did a pre-authorization  and the card is valid. 

Arkie it is maddening! At this point I am glad I took the time to investigate. This is a real reservation - or at this point I have to believe it is real.  The reservation is in a little over a week so will come back to inform if it was not.  There was no request for pre-payment which was the only scam part missing from this booking but the oddities really had me guessing.  And I am still baffled as to why she (the TA) would not book using my booking system.  

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10/07/2008

Was she non English Speaking?  I ask as I had a similar issue and the travel agent had to be out of his apartment in Hollywood...it was the oddest thing ever.  I thought he was posing as a T.A. but he was here. You will recall my Indonesian guests.

I decided to charge the stay in full, and said as much, to be safe. Then when he was here he said "Why did you charge us in full?" There was very little comprehension ever, the entire reservation. The first one I had like this, thankfully.

Hope it all works out.  Be careful if she tries to charge you for fees after the fact. That is another reason they call.

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06/24/2008

British English as the call generated from the UK. 

She could send me a TA commission invoice, but she did not ask if I paid commissions when she called.  But she did provide an IATA number along with her contact info in her emails.  But as noted before the number was not in the correct format according to the IATA checker I found on the web. 

We'll see how it goes. 

Highlands John's picture
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04/16/2010

If you think having an English person in the UK look at it would help, email me.

Arks's picture
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05/22/2010

So they went to the ResKey page, but didn't make the reservation there. Instead when through multiple e-mails with CC# and all. They deserve all the hoops they are having to jump through as a result, and you don't deserve ANY of them! Maddening!

I wonder if the nearest hotel would go to the trouble you have been through.

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Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

Call the legitimate travel agency in the UK. It might cost you $3. Say you need to confirm the reservation information and get their IATA number in order to proceed. If the real company knows nothing about it, there you go.

OR, call the guests. You found them online. Email them at their work and say the TA forgot certain info that you need and that she doesn't seem to be responding to emails.

I had a daffy TA last year who booked 4 rooms for 3 nights. Real people showed up but I needed confirmation of HER legitimacy first. She dropped a few names, I called them. Real TA, her own company, she's a bit flighty.

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06/24/2008

Madeleine wrote:

Call the legitimate travel agency in the UK. It might cost you $3. Say you need to confirm the reservation information and get their IATA number in order to proceed. If the real company knows nothing about it, there you go.

OR, call the guests. You found them online. Email them at their work and say the TA forgot certain info that you need and that she doesn't seem to be responding to emails.

I had a daffy TA last year who booked 4 rooms for 3 nights. Real people showed up but I needed confirmation of HER legitimacy first. She dropped a few names, I called them. Real TA, her own company, she's a bit flighty.

Well I just checked Reservation Key ISP tracking.  There are 2 searches from the same ISP for the same dates as requested.  I looked up the ISP and it is assigned to Am ex in the UK same city as the TA contact in the email. 

Sounds more like it is legit.    As for contacting the individual guests, I do not have their contact information.  What I saw online was their Link edin information - well the little bit that shows which connects name with company.  No phone numbers. 

We will see what takes place tomorrow as I assume that by the time I sent the email, the TA had left for the day. 

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06/24/2008

I am agreeing with you all - this is not the way a professional TA would make a reservation.  BUT the detail this person has gone though is indeed far more convincing than any other scam I have ever come across.  And the fact that BD, as well as some of my friends, have done business with the UK in this manor when purchasing makes me wonder if the practice is more common than we think.

Someone asked if I had googled the names of the 2 guests.  And I just did that.  These 2 individuals do work for the company mentioned in the email.  This company, while world wide, is not a company one would know or think of.  Throwing a little more in the mix.

 

Arks's picture
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05/22/2010

With someone that suspicious, I wouldn't make it optional to handle it online, I'd make it mandatory. If they can't do that, I don't want them.

Ice
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02/22/2010

For fun I would googl e the names.

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10/07/2008

If you have online reservations, and they have a cc (which is required to book a room with you, period), then they have to put it in. I have put it in on THEIR SIDE of the reservation system while over the phone, for various reasons. Never a T.A. they do everything online NOW anyway.

Online or nothing at all.

All the problems we have ever had were those who wouldn't go online...

Breakfast Diva's picture
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05/26/2009

Joey Bloggs wrote:

All the problems we have ever had were those who wouldn't go online...

yes

Breakfast Diva's picture
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05/26/2009

Nope, too many red flags. I've had to do the credit card split in 2 e-mails to make a reservation in the UK, but never when they're making one here. It's the online system or nothing at all.

Scary if they're getting this sophisticated.

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05/22/2008

Delete and do not reply to anything else. This is a scam for sure. No legit travel agent is going to give you a credit card via email.

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Joined:
10/07/2008

She would never email you cc #'s. It is a hoax. No matter how many emails...

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