Online Vacation Scams and How to Spot Them Out

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Nowadays shopping and booking your travel online is getting more popular, we Ipoh Secrets being an Inbound Travel Company had been listing and selling all our tour packages online since day one! So the question is, how do you know or decide that the travel package you’re looking for on the Internet is from a genuine and reliable company?

Facebook Live Fraud / Scam Case

During the Singles’ Day 11.11 Sales event recently on 11th November 2020, a Facebook Livestreamer touted an all included 3D2N 4-star resort at Laguna Redang Island Resort (“LAGUNA“) which includes all meals during the stay, 3 snorkeling trips, transferable non-expiry tickets, free & easy with no fixed date, waiver of surcharges, and a free RM30 restaurant voucher for a jaw-dropping price of only RM399! During the 2 hours of streaming, he generated sales revenue of RM3.5 million with more than 8,000 packages sold.

After the said event, LAGUNA officially denied the existence of the package on both their Facebook and their official website saying they did not authorize any third party to do the 11.11 sales. According to a later LAGUNA‘s Facebook post, they had lodged a police report against the said Livestreamer and the case has been handed over to MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission) for further action.

(We will post updates if available)

Official News Link
Due to the Livestream was conducted in Mandarin and targeted on Mandarin-speaking audience, for the moment, all news report is only on Chinese media (11 Nov, 12 Nov, 13 Nov) and Astro AEC news.

Notice is shown at Laguna Redang Island Resort's homepage after the scam case on 11th November 2020
Notice on Laguna Redang Island Resort’s homepage after the scam case on 11th November 2020

What We Can Learn From This Case

From our perspective as a travel company, there are a few pointers that you can take note of to spot a fraudster/scam from a genuine promotion. You may also apply this to every online purchase available since they share almost the same pointers:

  1. Certification and License
    — Check if this is from a licensed company, and the operator is a certified personal and not some shabby-looking individual.
    — The above 3D2N comes with 3 snorkeling trips, did they provide the tour company that is in charge of the activity?
    — According to the LAWS OF MALAYSIA, all tour and travel company is regulated and tourists protected under TOURISM INDUSTRY ACT 1992. Any selling of tourism-related packages without a license under MOTAC is an offense under Act 482, Section 5.
    — Payments will need to go through the partnered channel (in this case either a travel company or LAGUNA themselves) and not to the Livestreamer. As for how the Livestreamer earns his fair share will be between the operator and the Livestreamer either through commission base or with a promo code for tracking.
  1. Reputation, Reliability, Reviews
    — Do a search, find reviews of previous buyers, know before proceeding with your purchase. The easiest will be to Google the name of said Livestreamer, and the product in question.
    Tripadvisor is also a great place to read about reviews of everything travel related.
  1. Endorsement, Appointment, Connection
    — Should a famous celebrity, YouTuber, Livestreamer sell something to you, it will be officially be recognized by the company by co-hosting the event, posting on their social media, and promoting said package.
    — I don’t see this live stream even tagging LAGUNA anywhere on his Facebook post and the same for LAGUNA posting information about this Livestream.
  1. Expiry Date
    — A ticket without an expiry date? This is a big NO!
    — No sane company will ever offer their tickets/rooms without an expiry… Except for the ones that are having cash flow problems and with the clock ticking, they just want to have to do a cash grab before closing down. This also means your never ever to be expired tickets will be gone for good… and expired.
    — Btw, did you see any mentioning of T&C and Refund Policy?
  1. Jaw-dropping Price
    — If you see that something seems too good to be true, you’re probably right and should be suspicious of it.
    — This RM399 with the above point No. 4 reminds us about a case with similar pricing on March 2020, which is RM499 from the red-colored AA.

Should you like to know more about the things to check before buying travel packages online, there will be a webpage to be posted soon on Ipoh Secrets. Stay tuned!

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