When the world was hit by Covid-19, travel was the first activity to be grounded. Afterward, travel agencies, tour operators, and the hospitality industry suffered a heavy blow. Scammers and cybercriminals posing as travel agencies made a lot of money by taking thousands of people for a ride, in a welcome fallout. 

Recently, a former employee of Central Railway filed a police complaint in Nagpada. Apart from saying that the accused was a friend of the victim, the accused also promised to arrange a trip to Mecca and Madina for the victim and his family in exchange for an advance payment.

62-yr-old man duped of Rs 12.26 Lakh by a travel agent in Mumbai

62-year-old Firoz Alam Naziruddin Khan, who formerly lived in Jijamata Nagar, Worli, but relocated to Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh, was defrauded of Rs 12.26 lakhs by a travel agent. The agent took the money so he and his family could go to Mecca and Madina and perform Hajj, police said.

A few days following their return from Mecca, the accused contacted him and told him he could arrange another Hajj trip for him and his family for Rs 28,000. According to Khan, the trip was scheduled for December 2018, and as he intended to get his daughter married there, the accused suggested that he might know someone who could arrange her wedding there.

Therefore, Khan made an advance payment of Rs 4.76 lakh. He told the police that he made reservations for 17 people, which included his family and my son-in-law's family.

A second offer was made by the agent for a trip to Mecca and Madina in December of 2019 at a cost of Rs 25000 per person. Khan said he spent an additional Rs 7.5 lakh on 30 members of his family.

Khan settled in Ghazipur in March 2018, but later in October, when he contacted the accused for their trip, he demanded more money. In response, Khan asked him to return the money he had already paid. He then promised to arrange the trip for February 2019.

According to police, the accused constantly postponed his trip and then canceled it. As of yet, the accused has not returned the complainant's money.

Also Check: Fraud Story #178- Online passport fraud: Watch out for fake websites

How to Avoid this type of Fraud-

1. For your protection, the travel agent you choose should have an authentic document. Before giving them the money for your trip, ask your travel agent about the bond or license.

2. Your travel agent calls you to let you know that you've won a free flight or are eligible for a special deal. It might be used to steal your identity or money. Don't accept any spontaneous or unplanned offers.

3. Even though travel insurance may seem expensive, it can mean the difference between financial ruin and inconvenience for travelers. You will receive protection from losses, theft, cancellations, and damage during your trip, allowing you to relax and relieve some of your stress.

4. You can use Vouch when you're paying an advance to the travel agent. In case he scams you, you can always have your money back. There's no chance of fraud and scam when your transaction is backed by Vouch.

How does digital escrow work?

In digital escrow, a third-party account holds the money deposited by the buyer until the seller fulfills the terms of the contract. The escrow company supervises the transacting parties.

What is the role of Digital Escrow in preventing online fraud in India? 

Digital escrow services are offered by many companies in India. Among the most trusted is Vouch.

Vouch’s Digital Escrow service is a transparent way for buyers and sellers to build trust and secure a clean transfer of product and payment. Sellers can feel assured that they will be fairly compensated promptly, and buyers will feel confident that their order will be delivered as expected and on schedule. Vouch Digital Escrow keeps you updated and informed at every step of the transaction process till the end. Vouch’s professionals are always available to assist you with all queries that you may have during the entire transaction process. 

There is no scope for deceit or fraud since the payments, shipping, delivery, and execution are carried out under the honest and watchful eyes of the Vouch’s professionals. With Vouch, any business transaction becomes transparent, uncomplicated, and hassle-free. If you ever come across a fraudster asking for OTP, asking you to scan a QR code, or asking you to click on phishing links, you can simply refuse and ask him/her to proceed with the transaction through Vouch.

This is Fraud Story #215. Check back here for more fraud stories and scams that you can protect yourself from.

Safety is not just about protecting your credit, debit card number, and UPI accounts. It's about having control of your money till you've received the product or service you bought online!

Note: This is a good-faith initiative to educate the world about avoiding frauds like these and how to act when you're becoming a victim of such a situation. 

Do you have a fraud you would like to report? Please write to us at letstalk@iamvouched.com