“Fake” hotel rooms: the room is vacant, so is the hotel

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Some vacationers booked and prepaid their rooms online only to find the hotel had closed


A shortage of hotel rooms amid the massive influx of tourists to popular Cambodian destinations during the Khmer New Year holidays has led to an increase in a number of “hotel scam” cases which have seen many people being left without a room for the holidays, and even worse, losing funds used for pre-paid rooms.

A Khmer timeLast week’s investigation in Siem Reap uncovered cases of people paying for an “available hotel room” through an online travel agency and found themselves without.

Phnom Penh photographer and artist Cheky Athiporn said his friend asked him to book a hotel for April 15, a day before his friend’s visit to Siem Reap for the Khmer New Year.

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Cheky said he used Agoda, a popular online travel and hotel booking agency, and found a hotel known as Forest King Hotel, described as “close to Leu Market” in Siem town. Reap.

“Agoda charged me $112 for a one night stay in two rooms. I paid with my visa card,” he said. “I had no doubts as the hotel has an active Facebook page although their phone number is not listed.”

“However, when my friend and his family arrived, he found that the hotel was no longer functioning. People nearby told him that the hotel had been closed for over two years.

Cheky was furious when his friend told him about the case.

He saw the problem as a fraud and he also rebelled because his friend could not get suitable accommodation for his family.

“I contacted Agoda via email to request a refund. However, I received no response.

“Now I don’t know who to blame, the hotel or Agoda, but I’m sure many others must have suffered the same fate,” he said.

Soy Sorphea, an accountant from Phnom Penh, said Khmer time that she visited Siem Reap from April 15-18 with her husband and baby and was scammed not once but twice.

“We booked a room at a hotel known as Goldiana Angkor for April 16 and paid over $60 for it,” she said. “But, when we went there to check in at 2pm, we found the hotel closed.”

Sorphea later learned through an online search that Goldiana Angkor had previously been sold to a Phnom Penh company to be turned into a school campus.

“I had no choice but to look for another hotel as I have a little girl and she needed a shower and her sleep. As all the nearby hotels were fully booked, I again searched for a room on Agoda,” she added.

The family found another hotel known as My Unique Villa Hotel on National Route 6 and paid $109 for the prepaid reservation.

“When we arrived at the location of the hotel, we learned that the hotel was closed two years ago.”

“I was so upset that I called the Siem Reap tourist police and reported the matter,” Sorphea said. “But the official who answered the phone said there was nothing the police could do and told me to contact Agoda.”

Sorphea added that she had no choice but to check into a hotel in Kampong Thom, more than 100 km from Siem Reap town.

Khmer time the inquest heard that at least 12 other people had been victims of such a “scam”. Some of them ended up sleeping in a car or even in a pagoda because they couldn’t find a room even though they had already paid for the hotel room online.

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A user who paid for a room at the hotel seen in the photo later discovered it had closed and took to social media to warn others. KT/Pann Rachana

Sam Reaksmey, head of the Siem Reap Province Tourism Police Unit, could not be contacted yesterday.

Ngov Sengkak, director of the Siem Reap tourism department, when contacted said he was busy attending a meeting before hanging up the phone.

Khmer time also could not contact Agoda for comment on the issue, but could not reach it.

However, Ho Vandy, Secretary General of the National Tourism Alliance and Managing Director of World Express Tour and Travel, confirmed that such hotel scams exist, not only in Cambodia but all over the world.

“The culprits are mainly those who are IT savvy and have taken advantage of the shortage of accommodation during the holidays and the postal hotels which have already been closed on the booking app for people to book and charge for them. advance,” Vandy said.

“When users find out, it’s too late.”

Agoda, a Singaporean online travel agency and metasearch engine for hotels, vacation rentals, flights and airport transfers, was a leading booking platform for travelers to Cambodia.

However, it has a long history of being used by scammers.

In 2017, a Thai woman reported that she had been defrauded by booking and paying for a “non-existent hotel” in Bangkok.

After realizing what had happened, she reportedly contacted the website for a refund, but they refused, saying her reservation was valid and non-refundable.

She then filed a fraud complaint with the Thai government, and only then did Agoda finally agree to reimburse her 150,000 baht.

The company, however, has not issued an apology for the issue.

The company’s website and mobile app itself do not have a listed phone number or email address.

Vandy, general secretary of the National Tourism Alliance, said that while the scam cannot affect the country’s tourism sector as a whole, he described it as a plague as it hurts people and ruins their vacations. .

He suggests vacationers, especially those with limited digital literacy, be very careful about checking with hotels or travel agencies first.

“It is essential to confirm the existence and availability of the hotel before booking to avoid such a scam,” he said. “Relying on local agencies can better guarantee a good holiday or vacation,” he said.

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