Agents who’ve been contacted by ‘Orville’ trying to book a last-minute holiday to Dubai are being urged to contact Action Fraud.
Several agents have reported in Travel Gossip’s Facebook group that they have received phone calls from a man calling himself Orville in recent days, and he has already been reported to the police as a potential fraudster.
He is trying to book last-minute flights and hotel accommodation in Dubai, with an apparently large budget.
Agent Kieran Miller of Magical Traveller in Bristol said he became suspicious when the man refused to make a BACS payment, insisting that he wanted to pay by credit card instead. Another red flag was that ‘Orville’ accepted his quote before checking the room type he’d been offered.
“It could be genuine …but I can’t afford to cover a £9k trip to Dubai if not,” said Kieran, who pointed out that he was also suspicious because his agency isn’t ‘known for Dubai’.
When he posted a warning in Travel Gossip’s Facebook group, other agents said they’d also been contacted by ‘Orville’. One said his voice recording matched someone who’d tried to book under a different name earlier this year.
Another agent said they’d received an email from someone using the same name, but they told them they’d need to visit the agency in person to book.
Several other agents reported a similar experience with ‘Orville’. One said he even accepted the ‘inflated price’ they’d given to test if he was genuine, but he refused to make a BACS transfer.
Malvern World Travel, which was also contacted by Orville with a request for a late Dubai holiday, has reported him to Action Fraud and is urging others to do the same.
“Action fraud have stated if any agency had a request from this person to contact them urgently or make an online report, as the more reports they have then they can escalate their enquiry,” they posted in Facebook.
“If any agency has been defrauded by any means then it is important that this is reported as soon as possible so that Action Fraud can give advice.”
Action Fraud is the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. It collects reports about fraud on behalf of the police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and decides whether there is enough evidence to launch an investigation.
Suspected fraud in Scotland should be reported to Police Scotland
Earlier this year, ABTA warned agents to be wary of last-minute booking requests like this one, especially where the client shows no concern about the cost or details, such as the flights.
Other red flags include, said ABTA, include flight-only bookings departing within 14 days, asking to pay by cash or Bitcoin, using someone else’s credit card, and being unwilling to provide proof of ID.