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I booked a property via booking.com on 23rd for a stay in London UK from June 1 to June 7, 2019. I used my credit card. They pulled the full amount on 25th. After that on several occasion I updated my check-in request in booking.com but the request timed out due to no response from the property owner. I also tried to reach via phone and emails but little to no response from them.

Here are the reasons why I strongly believe that I am a victim of scam:

  1. The property I booked is no longer exist in booking.com. But the property name is Westminster Gardens with address 24 Strutton Ground, Westminster Borough, London SW1P 2HR, United Kingdom. I checked this address and this is an address of a hair salon.
  2. They are using same pictures with different name and different location in booking.com. New name: London Prime- homes in West End and Westminister with a new address: 104-105 Pall Mall, Westminister Borough, London, SW1Y 5EW, United Kingdom.
  3. They send me 2nd invoice saying that the amount is unpaid.
  4. They have used 3 different phone numbers in 3 different places and 2 different email address: In Booking.com website has: +447553076066 . The invoice they sent on dec 25 has: +447523145097 and following email address: booking@ourfamilyhomesltd.com. They again send a 2nd invoice on Jan 8 saying that the amount is unpaid even though they pulled the full amount on Dec 25. And the 2nd has phone number: +447923337233 and different email address: abv.homes@outlook.com.
  5. The first phn number +447553076066 is affiliated with an organization in UK: www.champinternational.org.

Made a complaint to booking.com but it is been almost a month and they have not found any resolution.

  • 12
    Contact your credit-card issuer to initiate a dispute over the charge. – brhans Jan 16 at 22:17
  • 4
    Document everything and let your credit card people handle it. My AMEX never fails me when dealing with unethical parties like this. – user 56513 Jan 16 at 22:23
  • 1
    Your credit card company will be very helpful here. The complaint should be made in writing, with screen captures, etc. I suggest using tineye.com to locate other ads with the same pictures, which will reinforce your claim it is all fake. Let me add, I am very surprised booking.com has done nothing. They also accept responsibility for hosting a scam, and you should write them again with the same documentation. – Andrew Lazarus Jan 16 at 23:15
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    The rest of the situation strongly indicates scam, but a Google maps image shows the building does have residential space above the hair salon. In general, it is possible to have a valid AirBnB type rental at the same address as a small business. – Patricia Shanahan Jan 17 at 0:24
  • @ThEiLlEgAlaLiEn Keep in mind that booking things far in advance can hurt you. Chargebacks are supposed to be within 60 days of the statement date, although companies may give you some leeway past that. – Acccumulation Mar 15 at 17:15
6

If one thing I have learned is that when you shop online, you can always ask for a refund, it will take time, but if you made the payment and it was also a scam, you can appeal for a refund. Contact your bank and let them handle the situation.

1

If you paid paid by credit card, this is relatively easy: Dispute the payment with your bank.

Some banks have this built into their app or online banking, with others you need to write them to dispute the charge. You may have to give a brief explanation on why you're disputing the payment, but you don't have to submit any documentation.

The way these things work the bank will "charge back" the money into your account, and if the merchant wants it back they will have to submit proof that the transaction was actually valid. Which is very unlikely in this case, if they scammed more than just you the account will already be under investigation.

Some banks require you to make a report to the police, though, if criminal activity is involved.

If you paid directly to booking.com, you may ask them to revert the transaction; but if they don't react quickly still dispute the payment.

Don't delay too long, as has been noted in the other answer, there's limited time to charge back your money.

Under no circumstances make payments to people that you don't know outside a trusted marketplace.

Scammers will usually try to lure you away from mechanisms that protect you. They'll ask you to pay by bank transfer or Western Union, because those can't be reversed[1].

There's a dirty little secret to sites like booking.com: They will sometimes hand over all your credit card details to the hotel If the hotel "loses" that data, people can use it to make random payments. If you suspect this has happened, block you credit card and have it replaced.

[1] Even if the police find the owner of the bank account it'll be some poor sod who thought that "earning 2000 bucks a week with no risk" was for real. Those will wire the money via Western Union to a foreign country, and you'll never see it again.

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Were you expecting a hotel? The first address given is either the hairdressers or one of the flat(s) above it. The second address is The Reform Club (the kind of exclusive place where James Bond might play baccarat while enjoying a nice martini).

Also all UK mobile numbers start with 07, like all the numbers you mention above.

I definitely think it is a scam. Take this up as a dispute with booking.com and your credit card company. Follow up if they don't reply.

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