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[Watch] Malaysian Holidaygoer Loses RM28,500, Allegedly Scammed By Online Travel Agency

[Watch] Malaysian Holidaygoer Loses RM28,500, Allegedly Scammed By Online Travel Agency

The victim was said to have been warned by the scammer not to make a fuss.

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Many holiday packages are offered either online or physically by 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 up and don’t notice that they are trapped or cheated.

Recently, a Facebook user named Zurich Teo said her friend was scammed after falling for a promotion offered by an online travel company that was advertised on Facebook.

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

The representative explained how they could redeem deals on holiday packages offered by their company.

By clicking a link, customers would be directed to the travel agent’s webpage, where they can scroll through a series of popular vacation destinations across Malaysia, such as Semporna in Sabah and Langkawi in Kedah.

Customer Required To Download An App

Prices range from below RM1,000 upwards, with stays between 4-day-3-nights or 3-day-2-nights.

Customers are then directed to scroll down to the bottom of the webpage and download an application.

READ MORE: Scammers Use Cheap “Durian Buying App” To Cheat Customers, Police Warns

Upon finishing the installation, users must grant the app specific permissions for it to function correctly.

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

Users can then select any listed destinations and purchase their vacation packages by paying a small deposit fee first.

Payment would then be made via a ‘payment gateway’ in the app.

Never Give Away The OTP

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

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

A few days later, the representative called her friend again and said they had ‘forgotten’ to register her membership and needed to repeat the process.

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

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

After receiving the OTP for the transaction and keying it into the application, the friend found out that she had been scammed.

Teo alledged that the scammers also warned her friend via WhatsApp not to bring the matter to light.

Better Safe Than Sorry

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

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

To avoid being scammed, be sure to deal with an agent or company registered and licensed with MOTAC.

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

You can take note of the company number or name and search on the MOTAC website or check here.

2. Make sure the company exists/is still active

Sometimes, the company may have had its license terminated or not renewed, sometimes because they make 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 through a phone call, you can also refer to the MyMOTAC application.

You can check the list of travel agents registered with the ministry and the rating of a hotel.

3. Package info

Make sure the package info offered is complete. Whether an umrah package or a holiday package, check all the information in detail and what is included in their offer.

Things to pay attention to include; round trip flight ticket, visa (if required), type and location of the accommodation offered, food (if provided), full holiday/umrah itinerary, insurance and travel documents.

4. Terms and conditions

Ensure you understand all the terms and conditions for the holiday package or umrah package.

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

In addition, be sure to read correctly the terms and conditions that apply, especially the cancellation and compensation section if you cancel or request a change of date and so on.

5. Make sure you deal in the agent’s office

If you are satisfied and want to complete the booking and package purchase, make sure you do so at the travel agent’s office to help prevent you from becoming a victim of scams.

Usually, victims who agents deceive do business outside the office or through WhatsApp only or a third party.

If you are in doubt about the agent’s identity, take the name, ask for a business card and so on.

6. Payments and receipts

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

Any agency must issue a receipt of payment received. On the receipt, ensure the amount for which the package is paid, either in hard copy or via email.

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

No matter what story is used, be sure to continue to make payments to the agency’s account.

Usually, unscrupulous agents run away after money goes into their accounts.

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