There is no such thing as a free vacation. But at least one company — and who am I kidding, there’s probably a lot more of ’em — would have you believe otherwise. Reader Marianne Ventruella recently came across one offer that’s so unbelievably suspect, I just had to write something about it.
Here’s her note to me:
Although I have not personally run across a bogus travel site, I think that I was just the attempted victim of a travel scam. Having been around the block once or twice, however, I did not fall for it.
It started today when I received what appeared to be a travel voucher in the amount of $1,600. It says that it is a reward for my “responsible financial history.” It really looks pretty authentic, with logos of Ramada Plaza Resorts, Universal Orlando and Carnival Cruises on the face of it.
There is a toll-free number to call within 72 hours (1-800-805-8396). When you call, they answer as “Ramada Plaza Resorts.” They describe the itinerary, which includes three nights of “Gold Key” accommodations in South Florida, a roundtrip cruise to Nassau aboard Carnival Cruise Lines or Imperial Majesty, two nights in Orlando and seven days transportation by Alamo Rent-A-Car.
They go on to describe in detail everything that is “included” — beaches, pool, deluxe accommodations, amenities, etc.
But the person with whom I spoke (Chad) said that I had to make a decision right now and I would not be allowed to call back after I spoke with my husband. He also said the trip was worth $32,000 and was a huge discount and they needed a $698 processing fee first. He suggested putting this amount on my credit card.
I knew it was a scam. I told “Chad” that if it were a legitimate offer, I would be able to research the information, speak with my husband (or maybe a lawyer) and call him back. His reply that these packages were extremely limited in number and reminded me that others would greatly appreciate such a “good deal.”
I told him that there was a known scam going around that sounded exactly like the “deal” he described and that under absolutely no circumstances would I even consider giving my credit card number over the telephone without checking it out first.
He told me he would offer the package to other customers. But I wish he wouldn’t. I hope no one falls for this.
Have you heard of this one?
As a matter of fact, this “offer” has been making the rounds for a while, and was written up on the Ripoffreport. Another site, Consumeraffairs.com, has documented the Ramada Plaza case, too. There’s even more on this dedicated site.
If it’s too late, don’t despair. You can always file a complaint with the State of Florida.
Bottom line: If the offer looks too good to be true, it is. If someone tries to pressure you to buy, walk away.