New South Wales Police this week alerted the public to a fake Facebook page advertising a Royal Caribbean competition.
The Facbeook page had a link claiming to offer the chance for Australian residents to win a cruise by sharing the post and clicking on the link. The police believe the page is designed to give hackers personal information.
The scame was one of many which affect thousands of travellers every year.
Scammers have targeted lines like Carnival and P&O. Earlier this year, three fake Facebook Carnival pages were set up, asking followers to give their details in a survey.
This week in Australia, one travel agent was charged and another arrested after they were found ripping off their clients. Here are some of the worst cruise scams…
1. Victorian agent scams Colac residents
Jordan Ditloff last year stole around $277,000 from 47 of his clients including his mother and his then fiancée. Ditloff sold dozens of holidays from his business, Act Travel but never booked cruises, hotels and airplane tickets. Glenda Robb, a window pensioner lost over $7,000 for a cruise. “We trusted him and it’s disappointed he has let us all down.” Mr Ditloff was sentenced to 20 months in jail earlier this week.
2. Northern Territory travel agent rorted pensioner concession travel scheme
A Darwin travel agent and former head of NT Crime Stoppers, Alexandra Kamitsis was found guilty of pilfering money from the NT concession travel scheme. The scheme was designed to subsidise the travel of pensioners. A second travel agent was arrested this week for also scamming pensioners.
3. Conde Nast Traveller journalist scammed on her shore excursion
Even experienced travellers can fall trap to scams. In 2013, Wendy Perrin and her husband were on a cruise that called at Grenada. She had checked TripAdvisor and found a taxi-and-tour company which charged $160 for her and her husband and another couple. She had negotiated with the taxi driver to drop her husband and her at the ship earlier than her friends. When the tour was over and the couples were going their separate ways, they each handed over $80 per couple, plus tip to the driver/guide. Ten minutes later when Wendy and her husband were dropped off at the cruise terminal, the driver demanded for their share of the fare. Because they had no receipts, there was no proof of payments. To get out of the argument, Wendy was forced to pay an additional $80.
4. Carnival Cruise Lines Facebook scam
In the US, Carnival were the subject of a Facebook survey scam, which much like the Royal Caribbean scam in Australia, is aimed at accessing your personal details. Infact, there are several fake Carnival Cruise Facebook pages which all have surveys on them.
5. Fake art onboard cruise ships
In 2006, American businessman Luis Maldonado was touring the Mediterranean with his wife Karina on the Regent Seven Seas Voyager when they decided to stop by the Park West art auction, which are commonly found on many cruise lines. He founds prints by Picasso which were appraised at more than US$35,000 each and a trilogy of Salvadore Dali prints valued at around US$35,000 a set. Mr Maldonado put a bid on both pieces of work and ended up spending US$73,000 on both pieces. When landed back home, he did some research into his purchases and found that the “Clown” print by Picasso, which he had paid US$24,265, was sold by Sotheby’s for around $6,150 in 2004. He also found that his Dali purchase was considered as an unacceptable print. Mr Maldonado contacted the auctioneer who told him that all sales were final. He then contacted the founder of the company, Albert Scaglione, who informed him he stood by certificates of authenticity. It wasn’t until Mr Maldonado told The New York Times of his story, and a journalist contacted the Mr Scaglione about the case, that Park West offered him a full refund.The art auction company can be found on Carnival, Holland America, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises and Celebrity Cruises.