Travelers cautioned amid rising cases of 'vacation scams'

By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

March 1, 2024, 5:49 pm

<p><em>(File photo)</em></p>

(File photo)

MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday advised the public to ensure that they are transacting with legitimate companies to avoid falling victims to scams ahead of the summer travel season.

The PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) issued the warning due to the upward trend in vacation or travel accommodation scams last year.

PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo, citing ACG data, said from 39 cases in 2021 and 91 cases in 2022, the police recorded 313 cases in 2023.

This year, the police has so far recorded 35 cases.

Criminals utilize social media and digital technology to impersonate legitimate establishments, offering online accommodation services at much lower rates than usual.

However, upon arrival, victims discover that their reservations do not exist in the establishment's system.

“We would like to take this opportunity to warn and remind our public na mag ingat (to be wary). Katulad ng sinasabi natin (As we have been saying), this is not only limited sa mga (to) vacation scam. Pati nga ‘yung mga nagbebenta ng mga murang services, nagbebenta ng mga ano-anong produkto, mag-ingat tayo especially kung ang kapalit agad nun is magpapadala kayo ng pera without you not knowing kung sino ang mga iyon (This includes those offering cheap services, selling different kinds of products, let's be wary especially if the scheme means you have to send money without you knowing who are these)," she added.

ACG director Maj. Gen. Sidney Hernia Director urged netizens to exercise utmost caution and refrain from providing personal or financial details online without verifying the legitimacy of the recipient.

“It is, indeed, important to be wary of unrealistic deals and always read reviews from other travelers. Also, if something seems suspicious, report it to the authorities,” Hernia said. (PNA)