It looks like I was scammed by a bogus travel agent. Needing to pick up my wife and three children after an emergency visit to Pakistan, I used a company called Sevenseaholidays.co.uk to book Qatar Airways flights – for me to travel and for all of us to come back .
Seven vacationss sent me two invoices to pay by wire transfer, to two different bank accounts. After paying Â£ 1,180 I was given the reference numbers and asked to check the booking on the Qatar Airways website.
A few days later it appeared that people coming to UK via Qatar would have to isolate themselves in a hotel, so I called the company and asked bookings changed to direct flights, for which I sent an additional Â£ 983.
I was then told that I had put the money into the wrong account and that I would lose the flights if I did not put the money back into the correct bank account. I was promised a refund of the overpayment of Â£ 983 but it did not materialize.
When he asked for an extra Â£ 500 to provide the direct flights I started to think it was a scam. I have since discovered that my flights to Qatar have been canceled and British Airways has no record of my direct flight booking.
I reported it to my HSBC bank, which refunded Â£ 590 of the Â£ 3,000 I paid, and to Action Fraud. However, the company still appears to be commercial.
Legitimate businesses are generally happy to engage with us when dealing with complaints like these, but Sevenseaholidays has not. I called the firm twice and got cut both times and found both my phone numbers blocked. He also did not respond to emails.
The company, which advertises on Facebook and has an address in Blackpool, has been arraigned for falsely claiming to be a member of Abta. In February, a legitimate travel agent, World Travel Lounge, said it reported the company you purchased your tickets from to Lancashire Police, Action Fraud and the Civil Aviation Authority for fraudulently using its Atol license.
Another travel agent with a similar name, 7SeasHolidays, posted a warning on their website stating that they are in no way connected to Sevenseaholidays.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, you should file an authorized push payment fraud claim with your bank. HSBC is one of the banks that has pledged to reimburse the innocent victims of these scams. I sent your letter to HSBC, explained the situation, and will report back if they don’t reimburse you. You should also contact Lancashire Police and local business standards.
In the meantime, others should know what this business is doing. It’s always worth Google for a business you’ve never heard of before sending money to them – and beware of any business that asks for bank transfers rather than traditional card payments. Just as Money went to press it emerged that City of London Police had taken the Sevenseaholidays website offline.
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