Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Monday, February 09, 2009

Nearly got caught out by a spam booking

I'm usually pretty good at spotting Scam Gite bookings which usually just "smell wrong" like the "Honeymoon" booking request I received summer last year.

The other week I have to admit that I very nearly got caught out by one that came through from French Entree (who are still happily sending me booking enquiries a year after I didn't renew my trial advert with them!)

Here's the enquiry I received:
Name: Olivier Jean
Tel: 00225 66 XX XX XX
Rental from : 15/02/2009
Rental to : 15/04/2009
Number of weeks : 8

The Enquiry:

Hello dear one,

I am interested in renting your house for a period of 2 months if possible and starting from 15/02/2009 to 15/04/2009 . please i will be happy to know if there is disponibility of the house, i will like to also know the total price of my bill incase the room is available for the mentioned date above.

Your faithfully,

Jean Olivier.

Tel: 00225 66 XX XX XX.

I have to admit being slightly ill at ease by the slightly odd phrase "disponibility of the house", but after Googling for these words I couldn't find it'd been quoted by any other Gite owners so concluded that it was probably just poor English by Olivier Jean (whoever he/she is).

Unfortunately I couldn't support these dates as we've got some other Gite guests staying in February and we're there ourselves in April, so I was part way through writing an apologetic email to the enquirer when for some reason I went back and looked at the enquiry again.

Maybe it was a sixth-sense or maybe it was the "i will like to" phrase that caused me to re-look at the enquiry, and in particular to check out the telephone number used.

Another Google search brought me to a list of international dialling codes which I searched for dialling code 225, and voila my concerns were realised as I found that 00 225 corresponded to Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast).

Definitely some kind of African scam booking attempt so I've ignored the enquiry and won't be replying (and thus opening up my mailbox to even more junk).

My top-tip therefore is to always check and double-check any unusual booking requests (long durations, short notice, etc) - search for unusual enquiry terms and names on Google, email addresses "look right" and not from a disposable email provider (so no, and also double-check any telephone numbers given. If in doubt, don't answer.

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