My family owns a beach resort in Biliran and I handle the online reservations and inquiries. I usually field email inquiries for the resort several times a week, so when I received this email request last week, I treated it like any other inquiry:
Hello, Good day to you and please note that we will need accommodation for 3 guests that will be on a short visit to your country. Kindly inform us if there is availability for 3 rooms from September 23rd to 28th 2014 (6 nights). See below for their names: Mr Sean Sampson Mrs Sara Wright Mrs Jane Brighton Do revert back to us with the rates as well as the total cost for the duration of their stay. Waiting for your response. Thanks, Jim.
Hi Jim,I confirm the availability of 3 rooms for September 23 to 28, 2014 for guests: Mr. Sean Sampson, Mrs. Sara Wright and Mrs. Jane Brighton.
It started to get interesting after "Jim" responded:
Thanks for the quote. It is a pleasure doing business with you. Your offer is affordable and it meets the budget plan of my clients. Now, my clients are ready to make the total payment of the stay for the
mentioned period Plus our Company's Commission of 950€. I have informed the client about it and so we will like you to recalculate the cost by including my agreed commission of 950€ and i will be
sending the client's credit card details, authorization to charge and all other necessary document to make the charge.
Kindly give me the total computation for the payment:
Compensation for your effort: 200€
The clients are aware of this commission charges to their credit card. Note that as soon as you get the full payment from their credit card, you will send my company's commission via Western Union money transfer or send it to my company account before client's arrival at your
hotel. Let me know if you can do this for us.
Thanks for working with us.
By then, all sorts of alarm bells were ringing in my head. An agency is collecting a Php60,000 (950 euros) commission for a Php27,000 tariff? And on top of that, the agency is paying the resort an additional Php13,400 (200 euros) for accommodating their guests?!
So I declined and did not act on Jim's offer.
I actually tried to locate the people named in the first email, since it was clear to me that they were the victims of identity theft and I wanted to warn them. But apparently, those are very common names and my search yielded dozens of hits. My hope is that they come across this post and will be able to act accordingly, canceling their credit cards or using this post in their dispute letter (like what I did when I also fell victim to identity theft)
Jim never did respond after I declined, but wouldn't you know it, I received the same reservation email again yesterday! Scammers never give up don't they? And apparently they don't keep their lists updated.
Be safe people!