The rising incidents of online hotel booking fraud have become a matter of serious concern for tourists who are selecting hotels online. Cybercriminals list fake hotel websites on popular search engines that appear to be authentic and dupe unsuspecting customers into making payments for room bookings.
In the latest case, a tourist from West Bengal was duped over Rs 16,000 by cyber fraudsters while booking a hotel online in Puri.
According to sources, Rakesh Haldar from West Bengal had scheduled to visit Puri from Nov 2-7 with his family and friends. While searching for hotels in Puri, he came across the advertisement for Swarna Deep Holiday Homes.
Believing it to be a true website, he checked in and paid around Rs 16,000 online to book three rooms for his stay. However, he landed in Puri only to find out that there was no hotel in the name of ‘Swarna Deep’ in Puri. The matter came to the fore after he approached the local cyber police station and lodged a complaint in this regard.
“A female had sent a video on WhatsApp with the hotel named Swarna Deep Holiday Homes. I had paid Rs 8,000 as advance to the girl online for three rooms. We had booked the hotel from Nov 2-7. In the second installment, I had paid Rs 8,830,” alleged the victim Rakesh Haldar.
“I was on my way to Puri on a train when I received a message from the lady that their hotel owner had died. So, she asked me to book another hotel. But when I reached here and tried to call, her phone was switched off,” he added.
Similarly, there have been reports of fake online bookings going on in the name of ‘Niladri Bhakt Niwas’ that is under the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration.
Meanwhile, the authorities could not be contacted over the matter.