2022-11-24 00:11:55

Holiday swindlers: The rise of digital travel scams

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By Rafael Barifouse and Oana Marocico

BBC World Service

Digital travel scams are a growing systemic and global problem, according to the World Travel Organisation, a branch of the UN. Dozens of Brazilian women have been finding this out the hard way, after paying for luxury holidays from a man whose Instagram account sparkles with opulent hotels and exotic locations.

Last December Maria (not her real name) decided to have a break from the heat of the Australian summer, and to take her family on a skiing holiday to Europe.

It was her first trip since the pandemic and she wanted it to be special. So she paid $20,000 to a travel agent, Rafael Bessa, a fellow Brazilian who had been recommended by a friend, and made the long flight north.

To begin with, everything was perfect, but as Maria checked out of the third hotel the manager told her the room had not been paid for.

Two further shocks came in quick succession. When Maria contacted Rafael Bessa to ask for help, she noticed he was unable to talk to the hotel manager in French, despite his claim to have attended an exclusive boarding school in the Alps. Then, when the family boarded a train to their next destination, there was a problem with the tickets: he had provided two tickets with the same purchase number, meaning that only one was valid.

Continue read on bbc.com

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