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  • FIRST POST
    Calum
    Holiday Scam - warning! (Holiday Lettings/Pay Pal)
    • #1
    • 24th Jun 09, 2:04 AM
    Holiday Scam - warning! (Holiday Lettings/Pay Pal) 24th Jun 09 at 2:04 AM
    Hi all,

    I have lost 980 due to this fraud so I have posted the article from the Cyprus mail which explains it well. If anyone has and advice for me and the many others affected that would be great.

    Pay Pal say: out with 45 days, not our problem
    Holiday Lettings: we just advertise, not our problem although they surely have some duty to make sure the apartments at least exists??

    Calum


    Cyprus Mail 15th June :

    Tourists fleeced in Cyprus apartment fraud

    Scam could have netted 50,000

    By Nathan Morley

    ITS BEEN revealed that upto 100 British families have been unwittingly
    duped into renting a non-existent luxury apartment in Ayia Napa leaving
    many forced to cancel their summer holidays.

    The full extent of the fraud is still unravelling, but its thought that a
    simple internet con could have netted over 50,000 by taking deposits and
    full payments from unsuspecting customers.

    The fraud was perpetrated after a bogus seaside apartment was advertised for
    rent on a well-known British lettings website and was quickly flooded with
    bookings.

    However, alarm bells began ringing when several families, who had paid in
    full for the apartment on the popular Holiday Lettings website, could not
    contact the vendor and became suspicious.

    It was advertised at a fairly reasonable price, the dates suited us and I
    paid the full amount to the apartment owner. It was at the very last minute
    I got worried, one victim of the con told the Cyprus Mail.

    Within a week, internet message boards were flooded with similar stories
    with complaints centered on one man Samir Hassim, who took thousands of
    pounds in bookings via Paypal.

    Most accounts report Hassim lured customers to cough up between 850 and
    2,300 for holidays scheduled between May and October this year.

    His advert on holidaylettings.co.uk boasted a luxurious spacious villa, with
    swimming pool, fully fitted kitchen, air conditioners and fantastic view of
    Ayia Napa.

    Our money was sent to Mr. Samir Hassim via Paypal, he has not made any
    contact with us since, many people have been left with no alternative but to
    try and find other means of accommodation and to pay again, another
    customer told the Mail.

    Last night Holiday Lettings media officer Kate Stinchcombe confirmed that at
    least five separate police investigations had been launched in the UK into
    Hassims Cyprus scam.

    We took Samir Hassims adverts offline in April due to concerns about our
    ability to contact him and therefore the same becoming a problem for
    holidaymakers using our site.
    We have since advised everyone who sent an enquiry to him through our site
    of this, she told the Cyprus Mail.

    At the point of allowing him to advertise with us we carried out numerous
    checks in order to verify as much as possible his legitimacy. We had no
    reason to believe his behaviour to be fraudulent at that time, she added.

    Despite attempts to contact Hassim by the Cyprus Mail, he remains elusive;
    having disconnected his British landline number and only a generic answer
    phone message remained on his mobile.

    As for the apartment itself, all that can be found at the advertised
    location was large empty expanse of dusty wasteland scattered with old oil
    drums and cardboard boxes.

    This road exists, you are standing on it, but the apartments I dont know,
    one bemused local told the Cyprus Mail, even local taxi drivers, who know
    every inch of Ayia Napa were left scratching their heads.

    Paypal, a company that lets customers send money to anyone with email,
    expressed gave concern at the situation last night and told the Cyprus Mail
    they would be urgently looking into the claims.

    Local police told the Cyprus Mail they no immediate comment, but said they
    would look into the matter if an official complaint was made, but it is
    unclear if Hassim has ever actually been to the island.

    The UK's trading regulator has issued warnings about online scams in the
    past and advised caution when booking holidays through private vendors.

    Be careful, double check on places like Google and if you are caught by
    fraudsters report it to the European Consumer centre or Consumer Direct in
    the UK, a statement said.

    Tens of millions of British internet users have been targeted by scams in
    the past year, with online fraud is at its highest level ever.
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