Is this a scam? A vacation package never received

By | February 12th, 2013

the-oceanThe offer looked like an incredible bargain. For just $1,749, Judy Citko and her fiancé could fly from California to Florida and enjoy a three-day Caribbean “cruise and stay” package.

But that’s not all. The price covered three adults and six children – a total of nine travelers.

The catch: Citko had to pay for it with a wire transfer from her bank. No credit cards accepted.

No surprise that the tickets never came and that the vacation didn’t happen. (What gave it away? The wiring money or the too-good-to-be-true price?)

Now Citko wants me to help her get a refund. I’m not even sure if I can track down the company she was doing business with, but I’m willing to try.

But should I?

Let me hand the mike over to Citko for a few details. The offer arrived via fax at her fiancé’s workplace. Yes, fax. It’s still an effective way to send out scammy unsolicited advertisements, and people still fall for them.

We were told that the “cruise and stay” package — which included a flight to Florida, a boat ride to an island in the Bahamas, and a three-night hotel stay in the Bahamas — was available for adults and children alike.

When I asked how this company was able to make travel available at such reasonable prices, I was told that this company resold travel that was purchased by large corporations but unused by these corporations and that this company made this travel available at low cost to government employees.

The company, which goes by the generic name of World Wide America Travel, insisted that her fiancé pay the $1,380 directly through a bank transfer. It managed to deduct the money from his account after he sent it a canceled check.

Related story:   Would you rent a car from this company?

But that wasn’t all. A few days later, she received a package from a business with an even more generic name: The Travel Company.

The Travel Company told me that we needed to pay an activation fee ($49 per person) and booking fee ($19 per person). They also offered to expedite the booking process for an additional one-time fee ($29).

Because of our scheduling limitations, I paid the expedite fee. The total amount of $369 was taken directly out of my bank account.

Then she waited for the promised plane tickets. They never arrived.

When I asked how we were supposed to book our flights, the travel company representative acknowledged that they were responsible for providing us with flight vouchers and that they had failed to do so.

The Travel Company representative promised that the flight vouchers would be put in the mail to us the very next business day. To this date, however, we have not received the flight vouchers.

No vouchers, no vacation. Is this a scam? Do the math. This poor consumer just wired $1,749 to a generic company and received nothing.

There’s a dark layer of the travel industry inhabited by travel agency card-mills, travel clubs and non-existent vacation packages that will take your money and then disappear. They move from state to state, changing their names at predictable intervals. It looks as if Citko has fallen for one of these fraudulent offers.

I can try to pursue these characters, but I’m wondering if this isn’t the kind of thing the Citkos should ask law enforcement, their bank and the Federal Trade Commission to handle. I’ve never successfully retrieved any money from one of these operations, but I’m not opposed to trying.

Related story:   6 tips for a summer daycation

Actually, I would welcome it.

Should I mediate Judy Citko's case?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

We want your feedback. Your opinion is important to us. Here's how you can share your thoughts:
  • Send us a letter to the editor. We'll publish your most thoughtful missives in our daily newsletter or in an upcoming post.
  • Leave a message on one of our social networks. We have an active Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence and a Twitter account. Every story on this site is posted on those channels. The conversation ranges from completely unmoderated (Twitter) to moderated (Facebook and LinkedIn).
  • Post a question to our help forums or ask our advocates for a hand through our assistance intake form. Please note that our help forum is not a place for debate. It's there primarily to assist readers with a consumer problem.
  • If you have a news tip or want to report an error or omission, you can email the site publisher directly. You may also contact the post's author directly. Contact information is in the author tagline.