[Watch] Malaysian holidaymaker loses RM28,500 allegedly scammed by online travel agency

ByRochelle W. Stone

Jul 3, 2022

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Many vacation packages are offered online or physically through travel agencies or private travel agents.

As usual, people will often buy the packages to take advantage of the cheap prices offered by these agents or companies.

Sometimes people get caught and don’t notice they’re tricked or tricked.

Recently, a Facebook user named Zurich Teo said her friend had been scammed after she fell for a promotion offered by an online travel agency advertised on Facebook.

A rep could be heard talking to potential customers in a video clip that was uploaded alongside the post.

The rep explained how they can take advantage of deals on vacation packages offered by their company.

By clicking on a link, customers would be taken to the travel agent‘s web page, where they could scroll through a series of popular holiday destinations across Malaysia, such as Semporna in Sabah and Langkawi in Kedah.

Client required to download an application

Prices range from under RM1,000 upwards, with stays between 4 days and 3 nights or 3 days and 2 nights.

Customers are then prompted to scroll down the web page and download an app.

READ MORE: Scammers use cheap ‘Durian shopping app’ to trick customers, police warn

Once the installation is complete, users need to grant the app specific permissions for it to work properly.

According to the rep, this is a must as staff members would contact customers through the app upon arrival at any of the vacation destinations.

Users can then select all of the destinations listed and purchase their vacation packages by first paying a small deposit.

Payment would then be made through a “payment gateway” in the app.

Never give the OTP

Teo claimed that the payment gateway failed to load when her friend attempted to pay the deposit.

The representative advised her friend to use another bank to pay, but she refused.

A few days later, the representative called her friend back and told her that she had “forgotten” to register her membership and had to repeat the process.

A screenshot of the payment made. (Picture: Facebook)

The friend followed the steps as instructed, even paying a small amount for the “registration fee”.

After receiving the OTP for the transaction and entering it into the app, the friend discovered that she had been scammed.

Teo claimed that the scammers also warned her friend via WhatsApp not to reveal the affair.

Prevention is better than cure

To avoid being scammed by these fake travel agencies or travel agents, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) has established guidelines to protect against fake travel agents. trips.

1. Make sure the agent/company has a valid license

To avoid being scammed, make sure you are dealing with an agent or company registered and licensed with MOTAC.

Companies that offer vacation packages or Umrah packages must have a license, and to ensure their validity, they can refer to their license number.

You can write down the company number or name and search on the MOTAC website or Check here.

2. Make sure the business exists/is still active

Sometimes the company may have had their license terminated or not renewed, sometimes because they made mistakes.

So, you can check their status on the MOTAC website or contact any MOTAC office to get the company status.

In addition to the website or via a phone call, you can also refer to the MyMOTAC application.

You can consult the list of travel agencies registered with the ministry and the rating of a hotel.

3. Package Information

Make sure that the package information offered is complete. Whether it is an Umrah package or a vacation package, check all the information in detail and what is included in their offer.

Things to pay attention to include; return airfare, visa (if required), type and location of accommodation offered, food (if provided), full vacation/umrah itinerary, insurance and travel documents.

4. Terms and conditions

Make sure you understand all the terms and conditions of the vacation package or Umrah package.

It should be noted that you understand the agent’s responsibilities; for the Umrah package you need to know your rights as an Umrah pilgrim and if it is a holiday package make sure you know your rights as a tourist.

Also, make sure you read the terms and conditions that apply, especially the cancellation and compensation section if you cancel or request a change of date, etc.

5. Be sure to deal in the agent’s office

If you are satisfied and wish to finalize the reservation and purchase of the package, be sure to do so at the travel agent’s office to avoid being scammed.

Usually the victims who are deceived by the agents do business out of the office or via WhatsApp only or a third party.

If you have any doubts about the identity of the agent, take his name, ask for a business card, etc.

6. Payments and receipts

Payment can usually be made at the agent in cash or through online transactions.

Any agency must issue a receipt of payment received. On the receipt, be sure of the amount for which the parcel is paid, either in hard copy or by e-mail.

Online payments must be made directly to the travel agency‘s account and not to a third party.

Regardless of the story used, be sure to continue to make payments to the agency’s account.

Usually, unscrupulous agents flee after the money has been deposited into their accounts.

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