Ihsan Abdul Salam describes himself as a “loyal” buyer of Flight Centre, reserving tickets with the worldwide journey firm since 1995.

However when he went to a Vancouver department of the agency to choose up tickets to Brazil he had booked by way of a guide on-line, he was in for a shock — the $2,280 reserving didn’t exist.

He’d been scammed by an impostor web site, considered one of scores that the agency says it has been has been attempting to stamp out since final summer season.

Flight Centre says it has had greater than 200 fraudulent listings taken down up to now, the search outcomes having appeared in on-line searches for “Flight Centre” throughout Canada.

Salam had Googled Flight Centre to guide tickets to Sao Paulo to go to his girlfriend in September. He stated he clicked on the primary website to pop up, then spoke to considered one of their “journey consultants” on the cellphone, who took his reserving and cost.

However one thing appeared odd.

“It was very unusual … they informed me ‘don’t name anyone, we will ship you the unique ticket, simply give us time,’” stated Salam.

“I felt one thing was fallacious.”

Salam stated from earlier expertise, Flight Centre would ship an e-mail with a ticket as quickly as he hung up the cellphone with a guide, however this time, his ticket by no means arrived.

So he went to Flight Centre’s Kitsilano department, the place he acquired the unhealthy information — the location was a rip-off, and he wasn’t the primary sufferer.

“I felt unhealthy for all of the folks which have been on this scenario,” Salam stated.

Chadd Andre, govt vice-president of Flight Centre Canada, stated the agency had observed fraudulent listings popping up on-line since final summer season.

Toronto-based Andre stated he occurred to be on the Kitsilano department to debate educating prospects about fraudulent websites when he observed Salam stroll in to hunt assist final 12 months.

Andre stated listening to about prospects’ experiences prompted his staff to boost consciousness of the fraudsters.

Flight Centre shared examples of faux web sites. One is labelled “Flight Middle,” not “Flight Centre,” and includes a blue and white color scheme, not the purple and white utilized by the genuine website.

It’s not clear the place the pretend websites are based mostly, and Andre stated there are quite a few “unhealthy actors” concerned, making it exhausting to eradicate all of them.

He stated Flight Centre and its authorized staff had been working with search engines like google and yahoo, resembling Google, to take down pretend listings.

“However it does appear simply as rapidly as we flag new listings that there are new ones popping up,” stated Andre.

The genuine Flight Centre web site now carries a outstanding warning about fakes.

Salam stated he needed to “swallow the ache” of paying for pretend tickets, and he nonetheless went to Brazil in October and managed to have time.

He stated he deliberate to go to his household in Dubai this 12 months.

“This time I’ll go to the workplace and I’ll see the folks there,” stated Salam.

By Nono Shen in Vancouver

This report by The Canadian Press was first printed Feb. 4, 2024. 


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