Friday, 5 September 2014

Word of the Week - Scam

Posted by Rosie

The Reading Residence


noun - a dishonest scheme; a fraud

verb - to swindle

This week it seems the press, radio and social media have been full on stories about holidaymakers being scammed out of large sums of money when booking a holiday.  They think they are booking a genuine holiday property but in fact the email account of the owner has been hacked and all their emails and money transfers are with the fraudster not the owner.

The reporting has all been very  much focused on the scammed families but there has been little thought given to the owners who have also been scammed and the knock on effect this is having. Genuine owners have lost bookings and thus valuable income.  There is also a general feeling that an increasing number of people feel nervous booking a holiday direct with an owner.  Much of the advice given to holiday makers has been to either book through an ABTA protected site (not direct with the owner) and if booking direct use a credit card.  In reality that means holidays makers might move away from small privately owned properties such as ours. We are currently looking to use a system where we can take credit cards which will mean an extra cost for us to bear.  However there are also many other simple steps that holiday makers can take to protect themselves as I blogged about here.

As owners we have to stay constantly vigilant to not fall victim to all sorts of scams ourselves.  This week we were contacted by a legitimate sounding company which was anything but legitimate.  The lady told us that we would be advertised on a site specifically available NHS and public sector workers who could get discounts when booking through them. We would also be on a site that the public can book through whose Twitter account purports to attract millions of visitors.  She assured us we would get on average 8-13 booking a year and the only cost to us would be a £99 annual admin fee (refundable in full if we were to get no bookings). 

Hmmmm - it all sounded a bit too good to be true so I did a bit of delving.  It took me less than a minute to find a whole raft of forums and other pages warning of this scam.  Whilst the public website does exist it has so few hits and is so unknown that no-one is likely to book through it and the NHS connection does not exist at all.  Anyone who has paid up has received no bookings and their admin fee is, of course, never returned. 

Oh yes and we are also getting exceedingly fed up with emails from the likes of Julie Love with her apparently lovely picture and some so called solicitor's firm in America who insist we have to go to court and please click on the attachment to find details.  Thanks but no thanks.

Be aware and protect your money

What word would sum up your last 7 days? Something much more positive I hope. 


  1. It almost seems that every week there is a new scam going around and they impact so many people. Sounds like you're doing all the right things to protect your business :) #WOTW

  2. As soon as I saw this word I thought "Oh no!" it is a good job you checked the "company" out. It is so scary how many scams there are it really does make you trust much less x #WotW

  3. Until I read this, I'd never really considered that all the warnings about scams would affect small businesses, but of course they do. We live in a tough world, I hope you continue to do well.

  4. It's a sad world we live in when so many are trying to scam others, you are doing the right thing though keeping your wits about you and doing your research. Fingers crossed you keep safe from the scammers.

  5. It's a sad world that we live in when people do this, my husband was very nearly scammed a few months ago by a similar scheme, it was for the fire service though, it's only due to my suspicious nature that I queried the emails & this morning I've had 2 emails from Julie Love! #WotW

  6. I'm very glad you checked it out before going ahead and handing your money over....There is so many scams around. I try to check everything if it sounds too good to be true x

  7. This is a sad and frightening word to have. I'm glad you weren't scammed yourselves, but yes, I can see how all of these latest scams would cause you problems and costs, through no fault of your own - so frustrating for you. I've had an email today about my blog that appears to be a scam, too - they're seemingly endless, sadly. Thanks for sharing with #WotW x

  8. It is so sad that this is the world we live in, every year I get al bit more cynical about everything, it must be very frustrating for you as a business to have to safe guard yourselves and always second guess every seemingly great offer that comes around. #WotW

  9. Yikes Rosie, this is awful! I wasn't aware of these scams, but I can completely see your point. Really pleased you haven't been personally affected by it, and I hope it won't put holiday makers off visiting your lovely Gites #WotW

  10. Well done for checking that out. We got scammed a couple of years ago - we were new in the business and had agreed to so many adverts etc. that we were an easy target for a pushy scammer to call insisting we had agreed to feature in a publication we had never heard of and then demand payment! It was awful - we had letters threatening legal action and it really made me question my sanity as I was sure we'd never agreed to it! They gave up in the end, and obviously no legal action was taken. We looked them up and there was a history of various scams behind them and they'd been very successful making hundreds of thousands of pound from poor hard working people. Makes my blood boil thinking of it all again! We even reported them but there was nothing anyone could do! I am far more aware of it all these days, but many people aren't :(