by Kimberley Cummins
A St. James woman is US $902.68 poorer and is crying fraud.
In a telephone interview with Barbados TODAY the woman asked to remain anonymous because after the incident she felt extremely stupid, however she said she was coming forward to try to prevent other people from falling into the same trap she did.
On Monday August 13, while on the Internet searching for inexpensive tickets to travel to Miami, she found a website: www.lowcosteticket.com. The mother of four said she read through all the information and it seemed legitimate, as a result, she completed the form and was given a fare of almost US $200 cheaper than another site.
“So I hit submit and it said you could hold the ticket for 48 hours or purchase the ticket now. I clicked the on ‘pay now by credit card’; a message came up that they cannot accept international credit cards so I clicked the next thing — Western Union. It gave a price for Western Union and they gave me a further discount of five per cent for using them. I then clicked bank transfer to see how much it would be and it worked out to be cheaper. I contacted the bank to get the cost of the transfer and Western Union as well.
“The website claimed to reimburse the transfer fee, so I accepted the US $944.60 for the two tickets”.
The following day, she said, she went to her bank in Sunset Crest, St. James and did the transfer. She wired $902.68 minus the transfer fee (the website said they would pay the fee).
In an email, the company said the e-ticket would be provided within four hours after the transfer confirmation was received; she was sent the confirmation code and the 30 year old said she waited. After waiting for what she considered an extremely long wait, she contacted American Airlines for confirmation but was informed the reservation was still pending.
“I said ‘this is very strange’ because why would they be waiting for confirmation when I sent the money already during the day. I tried emailing the company but I did not get any response.
“Later in the night I got an email from them asking for a reference number on my receipt and I like an idiot email back the reference number, despite my husband sitting next to me asking if this legit. Then it bothered me all night, so on the Wednesday I got up at the crack of dawn and called AA to see about my reservation. AA gine then inform me that them ain’t got no reservation for me; I was like ‘Excuse me? Yesterday I sent $902 for the tickets’.
“They transferred me to somebody in America and I talk to a rep and she was searching and she could find nothing for me. Furthermore, the code I gave her she couldn’t find it. She said it is a fictitious code. Honestly, they tried their best, they searched and searched but no reservation for me,” she said.
The woman said this was when reality hit her that she may have been defrauded. She said she tried contacting the website continually but to no avail, after which she contacted the bank to inform them of the situation and as well the Royal Barbados Police Force Fraud Squad.
She reported that an official at the bank told her that because it was done automatically “when the money gone, it gone”. She added they asked her to write a letter while an officer in the Fraud Squad advised her there was nothing they could do because the crime occurred abroad and not in their jurisdiction.
The woman said her further investigations revealed that the company’s accountant, AK Agency, which is believed to be based in the United Kingdom and which she was asked to send the money to through, Modris Kononovs and Rusins Miglinieks, was non-existent. Furthermore a Google search, she noted, showed that the company was alleged to have defrauded a dozen other people overseas.
“You imagine they did that? I want to publicise this so no other person would get their money carry way. It won’t be any help for my US $902 but at least others would not lose their money like I did. I would advise anybody to only use the airlines websites because with these places you taking a risk.
“I don’t think there is anything that can be done for me, I feel real bad because everybody telling me that I real stupid that something should have gone off. I feel like a fool, US$902 don’t come so easy.
“AA can’t help me, the bank can’t help me; I feel like a fish out of water and my money swim and gone to England. I suppose to be somebody that got common sense; these things should not happen to me,” she lamented.