Around four years ago, like so many here, I too was tricked by this company then calling itself All seasons Travel, saying that I had won a holiday and through very clever tactics getting my credit card and making an unauthorised transaction. I managed to get the money back.
Tonight, some four years on, my brother has fallen for the same scheme. He rang me very excited about the fact that he had won a holiday and was planning to take me - bless him - however, as he went on to describe the phone call I realised he had fallen for the same scam. Different company - now calling itself Suncoast Holidays but same scam. It took some time for him to admit that he was silly enough to have given them his credit card and yep, woops they had taken some $998 US off him. Sigh.
It took me some time to convince him to ring the bank and cancel the transaction. He had been well and truly hooked.
In the process of sending him different websites including local news articles and current affairs on this scam, I came accross this website and with some interest have been reading the rebuttals. Most of them are copy/paste responses clearly by the same person but I want people to please take in to account the following if they doubt this is a scam.
1. There is an awful lot of people out there feeling ripped off.
2. Why would they say you have "won" anything - when clearly they want your credit card details. Free is FREE people.
3. Taking money for tax or whatever reasons they give sounds perfectly feasable? Why wouldnt you pay that ON the spot once you arrive to your FREE holiday? What possible difference could it make to them?
4. Why isnt there call back number manned? Or in some cases false?
5. Why are you transferred to four different people. Surely the 1st person could do the whole thing? They clearly do this with impressive work titles to hook you in to feeling it is legitimate
6. Why mention that they are affiliated with places like the Hilton, Quantas etc. They are clearly NOT under the umbrellas of those companies and are using the respect and legitimacy of those names to cover their lack of credibility.
7. I have heard of NO-one getting their money refunded from the company despite having a 30 day cooling off period. The only ppl who have gotten their money back are those who have rung their banks.
8. If this is an upfront company, why use this form of sales technique which is clearly at best immoral and manipulative, and at worst fraudulant and illegal. An upfront company surely doesnt need to make their money by ripping people off. These people are NOT actually selling anything.
9. The website has flaws if you look for them and know what to see. The testimonials are not consistant with local dialect. I feel that if I point this out they are going to change this.. but what the heck... at the moment they have australians saying how wonderful their vacation is... Aussies do not say "vacation" so clearly these are made up testimonies. Also, generally a company will contain more information about themselves rather than just rehashing what they have said on the phone. Links are not properly programmed on the website. If you compare there AKA's the websites are identical practically for allseasons, Atsa and suncoast holiday.
10. Why change your name three times if you are a legitimate organisation
11. Why change your address so many times.
12. This marketing technique is in breach of local Florida law - it is NOT legal in that state. An illegal company will NOT provide you with what they say they are going to.
13. The owner of this company is apparently Larry Flynn. Clearly this is not a real name and the fraudster running this thing is making a pun. For those of you who don't know, Larry Flynn was the owner of Hustler magazines... get it... hustler... hustle... Its a scam people and they are laughing at you.
People who have fallen for this - I know how you feel as I have been there. I have been on the Internet since it started, I have worked in IT for 20 years and have 2/3rds of an IT degree. I have even helped the Australian Federal police in closing down the bank scams that were popular about 10 years ago - and I fell for this hook, line and sinker. Don't feel bad. These guys are professionals. They make you feel excited, special and they are very convincing. Being transferred adds to credibility, the drop names, they give you reference numbers, They have a website. Mickey Mouse is on it. Everyone wants a holiday and everyone wants to believe that they hit paydirt just once in their life. It is very clever and very good. So don't feel bad. Don't feel embarressed. Spread the news to your family and friends and NEVER give your credit card details, or personal details out over the phone EVER no matter what.
If you fell for it, forget trying to get the money back from the company. Report it to the authorities in Florida, ring the Australian Internet Fraud Squad, Ring your state consumer affairs office, but most importantly, ring your bank. Don't let them tell you that because you gave out your number you can suck on it. Get your dispute form, fill it in, and get your money back from these scammers.
And if you don't - well you just learnt a very important lesson and it only cost you $998US. It could have been worse. Money WELL spent if you DONT give your credit card details out again, recieve money from Western Union, respond to emails from your bank or paypal saying your account has been frozen, believe that Microsoft is really ringing you about your computer having viruses and sending messages or that some rich old dying Christian in Nigeria wants to give you $1million dollars for free just for breaking the law and laundering money.
If it sounds too good to be true... it is. These scams only ever work on dissatisfied people. That doesnt make you gullable or stupid - just wishing life was just that tiny bit easier than it is.
Hope this helps someone :-)