Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Scam booking - a "honeymoon present for friends"

I've written before about some of the scam holiday gite booking requests that I receive from time to time, but yesterday I received one that almost had me believing it before I checked it out a bit further.

Most of the scam bookings I get via our 'contact us' form are completely obviously rubbish, they're packed full of links to definitely unsavoury websites (I never bother looking at what they are but judging by some of the link titles I can guess they're porn related). Why anyone ever bothers trying to entice me to visit their websites via this means is beyond me, but I'm quite good at pressing the 'Junk' button in Thunderbird when I receive these.

Some days I receive one or two of these junk booking requests, but occasionally I get several in the day, and on a particularly bad day I received nearly 40 of them. My usual tactic is to periodically rename the "contact us" website page so whatever auto-bot is visiting the website and filling in the form will just get a 404 page not found error. This usually reduces the volume for a few months before it's time to apply it again.

Today's "booking enquiry" though was quite different:
Booking enquiry submitted by Glenn King ( on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 01:03

Query: Hi,
I will like to make a reservation for 21 days for friends who will come there for honeymoon its my gift to them since i cannot attend their wedding. Let me know if there is any vacancy for the month of August 29th to September 18TH 2008 or any other dates you have available, I will await your response
Glenn King

Although it looked 'sort of' right, it did raise my suspicions especially when I realised that Mr King was proposing to buy a Gite booking for someone's honeymoon present in a little over 7 weeks time. I can't imagine anyone in their circumstances wouldn't have their honeymoon already booked, and even if it wasn't, they were unlikely to be able to take 3 weeks off work with such little notice!

With warning bells now firmly switched on I did some exploratory Google searches and didn't find anything, and then I turned to Lay My Hat which is a website forum dedicated to holiday home owners around the world.

A quick search on their forum turned up trumps, several other property owners reporting similar "honeymoon" booking requests with identical wording, even down to the poor English at the beginning ("I will like"). Here's one such example.

Moral of the story is to keep your wits about you as a Gite owner and trust your instinct if things don't "look right".

Mr Glenn King won't be getting any kind of reply from me ...

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