Throughout July, a London housewife opened her door to around 100 tourists who insisted they had booked their property at the popular travel site booking.com. But it turned out that they had all been caught in a scam.
In statements to the bbc Recently, the hostess, Gillian, explained that the strange episode began when a couple of travelers from Asia knocked on her door on the 4th of July.
The couple said they had rented their north London property through Booking.com, prompting Gillian to reply: “No you haven’t, because the house isn’t on Booking.com.”
But that was not the end. A few hours later, several more weary travelers showed up at her house, leaving Gillian to explain again that she had never put her house on the site.
After searching Booking.com herself, she found her address listed, but it was next to photos of a different property that had been pulled from another travel site. It was then that she realized that she was caught up in a scam in which someone had created a fake listing in an attempt to fleece tourists.
Despite informing the travel site on July 5, the day after the first groups of people knocked on his door, around 100 additional travelers showed up in the following weeks from as far away as the United States, Saudi Arabia and Australia. .
“I felt so sorry for those tourists calling me,” Gillian told the BBC. “All I could do was fire them. I feel very worried about that. They are very nice people. But maybe one day we could get some people knocking on the door who are actually quite aggressive. I feel very vulnerable.”
In a widely reported statement, a spokesperson for the travel site said: “We take safety and security very seriously, and each week we facilitate millions of stays, the vast majority without a problem.”
The spokesperson added: “Unfortunately, scams are a battle many industries face against unscrupulous scammers looking to take advantage and it is something we are tackling head-on. We have a number of robust security measures in place, but in the very rare case there may be a problem with a specific property, we always investigate immediately.”
The company added that Gillian’s property has been removed from its site and customers who booked it are being offered support regarding refunds, relocations and additional fees.