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Paul Motter November 27th, 2006 06:35 PM

Travel Scams
I am looking for people who have been scammed by "travel" companies. Fortunately, this has never happened to me, but I have seen it happen to others.

I remember one time I went to some kind of "state fair" where I signed up to win a free cruise - by filling out a form for a "drawing". I filled it in (Oh how naive I was at the time) giving them all kinds of personal information, and tossed it in the box.

To my not too great a surprise, I won the contest!! OK, I gave them my information expecting to be contacted with some kind of cut-rate offer, but I didn't expect to be told I had WON the contest. Surely, that would mean I got something for nothing.

"Mr. Motter, you have won a free cruise." they told me.

So I asked them - what exactly did I win, and they told me, "air tickets, hotel stay, free cruise." Then the moment of truth came, I asked them what I had to do to collect my prize and they said, "well, we require a credit card number to hold the reservations for you." I said, "but I haven't made any reservations yet, how do I know what I am holding" They replied, "it doesn't matter what arrangements you decide to make, but we need your credit card info now so when you do make arrangements we are ready to handle them for you."

"Why can't I just get details on what I have won, and then make my reservations and give you the card then?"

"It doesn't work that way." they replied! "If you don't give us your credit card number now we can't award you your prize."

To which I said, "That's stupid, I am not going to give you my credit card number not knowing what I am going to get in return." And they said, "Well, are you refusing the prize then?" and I said "You bet I am, you sleazy con artists." They hung up.

The next week I got another phone call. "Mr Motter, you have won a free cruise!" "Oh really" I asked. "And when was the drawing hed?" "Just today" they said, youare the winner."

"I am the winner, and no one else?" I asked and they agreed. I said, "Well, I won this same contest last week and I turned it down then and I am turning it down now."

Two weeks later, I was attending a class at the local universtity when a gal-friend said to me, "I won a free cruise!"

I said, "let me guess, you were at a fair, filled in a form and they called you and said you had won." "Yes!" she said, "how did you know?"

"Because I won that contest, too, twice," I told her. Then I told her I hoped she had not given them her credit card information, but she already had. Turned out she ended up losing a deposit she had made when she discovered the free trip involved service fees AND a timeshare visit. The cruise was one-day trip, Miami to Nassau, and the airfare was no bargain.

Anyway - I want to hear about travel scams - especially CRUISE scams that you have been involved in. Now, this isn't the place to tell me about coupons from mainstream lines you found it hard to collect on. I want to hear about REAL con artists offering FREE cruises, etc.

Donna November 27th, 2006 06:42 PM

OMG Paul,
Same thing here too. Learned my lesson. I do NOT fill out contest forms and drop them in a way!

Sea Trekker November 27th, 2006 07:06 PM

I watched a news program 20/20 or something like it.
Where they dressed an actor in a captains uiform from the 'love boat show'
They stood outside a casino in Las Vegas and gave out info on how they could go on a free cruise. the show used a hidden camera, and voice o f the actor & the baited.
You should see the peoiple lineing up for the free cruise.
After serveral people took the offer.
they had to tell them they were on TV.
the show went on to warn how not to get taken.
If it is to good to be true it is probable not.and is a scan
I get emails every day to give infomation about my ebay account, which I don't have.
I recently read a good book "Scam Proof your Life" I highly recommend reading it. topincs are medical, travel, phone,Nigerian letter, identity theft,
home inspections,auto & attorneys. Be smart, & be shafe.
Carole 8)

Luanne Russo November 27th, 2006 10:01 PM

Shortly after we moved to Texas, Hubby and I went to a boat show. Hubby signed up to win a free boat. About a week later, he got a call saying he had won. All we had to do is bring something to tow it with, and drive 2 hours from our house. We were so excited. We got there, and sure enough the place was on a large lake, and there sat "our boat. "

The man who met us, said that the boss wasn't there to release it, so how would we like to take a ride with him around the lake. We said sure, and away we went.

It was a beautiful place, lots of new homes, apartments, pools etc. After about an hour we came back to the place, and the guide said that we needed to fill out some paperwork for the boat, or as he was calling it, "Our dream of a lifetime" I soon realized that it looked like a credit application. I asked and he said it was IRS stuff. You know taxes and stuff. He said just sign at the bottom, and we will be all set. "No don't try to read all that fine print, you know how the Federal Gov. is"

We were still waiting on "The Boss" but he finally came in. Shook our hands, and thanked us for buying one of his time shares. I said what is a time share, and he said one of our beautiful apartments. I said we didn't buy any apartment, we came for the boat we won.

Long story short, we didn't come home with a boat, but we came home with much more. We learned that not all clean cut people are honest, not to sign up for a contest, and to buy our own Damn boat!! LOL


Paul Motter November 28th, 2006 03:13 AM

So, Luanne, did you really buy a timeshare, or a boat???

That is a crazy story!

Luanne Russo November 28th, 2006 07:46 AM

We bought lunch on the way home. LOL

Fieldmouse November 28th, 2006 11:39 AM

We won a free trip to Maui...flight included and a weeks stay at a lovely condo. My husband and I were BEYOND excited. It was very clear, no question about it...we had won!

I couldn't wait to share the good news with my sister who lives about an hour away, I called and she had won the same trip! We thought...isn't that odd? (It takes us a while!!!!!!)

Anyway, she and her husband had an appointment with the TRAVEL Agency for the following week, so we changed OUR appointment time to the weekend after. This would give my sister time to call us an give us all the dirt...(my husband had planned to take off work. You see the times to come in and CLAIM your prize were fixed...more hummmm?)

My sister and her husband arrived...were treated to a nice lunch AND A CONDO SALES session!

And yes, there was a trip to Maui...which turned out to be a very expensive FREE vacation with all the hidden cost.

We thanked my sister...canceled our session, and laughed that we could still be that naive.

NOTHINGS FOR FREE! (Why can't we ever learn that??? LOL )

Paul Motter November 28th, 2006 01:11 PM

My pictures of the people making these sales calls. I need more stories! certainly this has happened to more people than just me.

My wife actually likes to do those overnight stays at timeshares, doesn't mind the two-hour talk. We did one that gave us a free Las Vegas stay, and we never used it. But the Restaurant ciupns were nice.

Time shares are not so bad, really. I know people who have them and trade them out every year. At least they SAY they like them

Cruise Cynic November 28th, 2006 03:49 PM

When we were operating local Karaoke shows in bars around town, a travel agent gave us about a dozen "Free Trip" promotional packs to give away as prizes. It was a week's trip to Florida, everything included, all in a nice package. When I checked it out, it turned out to have "Fees" attached, which made it cost, oh, about what it would cost if you booked it yourself, in fairness maybe a tad less. We gave them all away, but never heard if anyone actually went on the trips. I guess it made folks happy to win something, even if it was in essence, nothing.

Shelly2176 November 29th, 2006 11:38 AM

Just last night...
Over the summer I was on a Norwegian cruise with my sister-in-law who legitimately won a free 7 day Caribbean cruise to use within a year playing BINGO. She was so excited as she had never won anything before. So when she came home last week and said she had won another cruise, I thought she must be having some great luck lately. She had entered a drawing at the local nail salon. She had me read over the details (as I'm always skeptical about free offers and read all the fine print) that was sent to her AFTER she paid a non-refundable administration fee of $160. Here's what's NOT included in her FREE cruise:
Please note Cruise means a 6-7 hr boat ride from Ft Lauderdale to the Bahamas. Not even a room on the boat, and a 3 night stay at a hotel that didn't look so hot.
Anyway, not included:
airfare to Ft. Lauderdale
hotel stay in FL (the boat leves at 7:45 AM, probably not possible to get a flight to ensure you have enough time to board that morning.)
Transportation to the dock or from the dock in Bahamas to the hotel.
Another $275 in fees and taxes
Meals and entertainment while in the Bahamas
She's not going to go now, but has anyone had any luck getting the nonrefundable adm fees back?

Paul Motter November 29th, 2006 12:12 PM

Shelly - thanks for the note! I hate to say it but it is the very small lines we do not cover: Imperial Majesty , Discovery Island Cruises and Regal Empress (to a lesser extent) that are doing this. Most "Free"cruises are from these lines:


Discovery Island Cruises sails from Fort Lauderdale to Grand Bahama Island on day cruises for about $129 per person. The ship sails at 7:45 a.m. and returns at 10:00 p.m. There are staterooms available, plus four show lounges and a casino. The ship also has bingo, a video arcade and a swimming pool; it serves breakfast and lunch buffets and dinner. The ship is docked in the Bahamas from 1:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., and it offers a number of "sail & stay" options so you can remain on the island from one night to one week.

Imperial Majesty now owns and operates the former Regal Cruise Line's Regal Empress on two-day trips from Ft Lauderdale to Nassau, leaving at 5 p.m. and arriving in Nassau the next morning at 9 a.m. She then sails at 6 p.m. to re-dock in Ft Lauderdale at 9 a.m. The ship provides live entertainment, all meals, a casino, children's facilities, inside and outside staterooms and even suites. "The MV Regal Empress is a classic liner built in Glasgow, Scotland as the Olympia, the flagship for the now defunct Greek Lines," the company said.
Imperial Majesty is the worst of the two when it comes to associating itself with these scam artists. Regal Empress is more a legitimate ship.

Cruznut2 November 30th, 2006 05:10 AM

Paul, I once worked as a telemarketer. One way they gathered information was to place boxes and forms at fairs, in malls and lots of places where there would be lots of people. The sign usually advertised winning a truck or car or trip to Disney or a weekend at Foxwoods. The drawing date would be far enough off that people would forget about it or figure that they did not win. The form asked for the usual name address and telephone. On the back of the form (few ever looked there) was a blurb that said something to the effect that by signing this you are giving permission for our agent to call...blah.. blah.. blah. Then the forms went to the call center where the agents would call and try to sell the time shares. Of course no one ever won the "drawing". So be careful what you sign up for at malls, check the back of the form, you might be releasing your info to telemarketers.


Paul Motter November 30th, 2006 07:53 AM

Thank you Laura for affirming that. Another thing people do all the time (and think they have to ) is warranty cards! And signing up for cell-phones. They all sell your information.

But, yes, you are right, those booths at fairs & shopping malls are the worst. Thats how it happened to me.

World-cruiser December 8th, 2006 03:01 AM


I once got a couple of calls saying that I won a weekend stay at a hotel in San Fransisco. Since I was skeptical about the call I asked where did they get my information from and they said from some other time when I stayed at that hotel before. I told them that I was not interested and hung up.

I have also got a call saying that I had won a cruise to the Carribbean and that I would only need to pay $100.00 which would be a good deal and that I would need to give them my bank account and routing number. I told them I was not interested and then hung up.



Paul Motter December 13th, 2006 03:10 PM

Obviously we have a pretty savvy crowd here, I guess i should go ask the question at one of the "other cruise sites" and see if I can fish in more sucker stories ;-)

mikewv2k February 23rd, 2010 02:03 PM

"8day/7night Cruise- reserved for the *** family"
"Mike, Take Your Dream Cruise Now !"
"Mike *****M , Pack Your Bags !"
"You have been selected to receive a complimentary cruise for two on any major cruise line including CARNIVAL, ROYAL CARIBBEAN, NORWEGIAN, AND CELEBRITY CRUISE LINES in a [highlited] luxurious ocean view cabin for 8 days/7nights. All meals, on board activities and entertainment are included. There are over 4 different ports of departure and many destinations to choose from. [small case] Retail value up to $2,200 !"
"We have been trying to contact you! (This is not a timeshare or land sale offer)"
"TOLL FREE 1-800-xxx-xxxx"
"Monday - Sunday 8am - 9pm"
Left Border:
Travel Itenerary
Ticketing ID:
Confirmation No.:
Name of Traveler:
Mike *****
Origin of Baggage:
*****, VA
port of call 1:
port of call 2:
port of call 3:
port of call 4:
Bonus Gift:
Roundtrip Airfare for 2!
call for details of participation. certain restrictions apply. travel is subject to seasonality.traveler is responsible for all applicable air and cruise taxes & fees.
VIP OFFER# 958-0016
sample itinerary

**Edited by moderator to remove personal and promotion information.

Mike M February 23rd, 2010 04:36 PM

This one really looks like a scam or a "too good to be true". The thing that popped out at me was the ports of call:

There is no way you are going to get from Baltimore to Los Angeles in seven/eight days with at least two port stops. Panama Canal cruises are 10+ days.

Also: Any email that says "We've been trying to contact you." is also a scam. If they had been trying to contact you, you would know it. This would not have been the first email.

This would go into the "Deleted Items" folder.

Take care,

skymaster February 23rd, 2010 06:05 PM

When we first got married, and didn't have a "pot", the lovely Mrs. Jones (Vita) and I used to take our vacations by going to the "time share resorts", and listening to their presentation, so we could stay there for a day or two. We listened to a bunch of 'em over the first few years of our marriage, and we didn't have to worry about buying any of them as there was simply no way we could afford them anyway!
We did attend one a couple of years ago, because they told us that the award for attending was a Caribbean Cruise, so even though we knew better, we spent our afternoon there. When we took a close look at it, it was a scam, which would have cost far more than I could book it for. Oh well,,,lesson learned.


Fern February 23rd, 2010 09:41 PM

Wow, Mike! Apparently you and your DW have missed one of the least expensive, most port intensive cruise's you've ever been offered :shock:!

Unfortunatately, there are probably many un-experienced cruiser's who will fall for this :(. I just wish there was a way to get all people who are cruising to come to CM's!

Lakers Fan February 23rd, 2010 10:00 PM

Free vacations
Several years ago I went to a advertising promotions trade show with a friend of mine who was in the business . More than 500 companies had booths at the show and one was a cruise line ,I can't recall which .They had a sign stating that everyone in attendance at the show could receive a free 3 day cruise . Airfare was not included . My friend and I chose not to avail ourselves of this great offer but I always wondered if it was just too good to be true .

katlady February 23rd, 2010 10:21 PM

I won a free cruise too at a fair drawing.;) They just wanted to charge me what they called port fees and taxes. There was a block of dates to chose from.

So untrusting skip tracing tax collector that I'm I ran a yahoo search on the company name. All kinds of interesting things popped up. Mainly once they get your money for the port fees you have trouble getting it back and they keep not having space on the ship to book your cruise. I found the perfect place to file my free cruise. BTW it was a 1A room on Carnival 4 day and the port fee was $250.:cool:

kandajones February 24th, 2010 07:43 AM

I don't recall ever 'winning' anything along these lines, and I'm sure there are some real prizes out there.

I simply can't get past the part of "Congratulations" that says "Con" ;)


Donna February 24th, 2010 08:58 AM

I too filled out a coupon to win a trip, and of course they called and I had won....Won what? They were just trying to sell a time share, so I've been very careful since, you really don't get anything for nothing..

tigerchic July 13th, 2010 05:21 PM

Cruise and Land Promotions SCAM!!!!
There is a company that you should look out for. They are called Cruise and Land Promotions. They said I was brought to there attention by using anyone of the online travel sites ( where you do not give out phone numbers when your just browsing, might I add) or by entering a physical drawing. They hold an F with the BBB for response to client complaints and I have found plenty of them. The most common one is that people paid the taxes ( without even knowing what cruise they would be going on or booking anything) and then never could manage to get booked on a cruise and went without a refund.

I got the phone call from the auto-dialer in Texas and was put on hold to wait for a representative, the rep never came on it just went to a voice mail and I went to research the company because I didn't enter to win a "free cruise". Within a few minutes a rep was calling me from Illinois while she loudly enjoyed her lunch in my ear, to confirm my cruise. I told her that I found several complaints about people paying the taxes and then never getting a booking date. she explained the process to me and apparently they ask that you find the cruise you want to book and fill out a form to give them 60 days booking notice. It just sounded like a way to make a lot of time go by really fast and make it as complicated as possible so that they can keep what you pay for taxes without ever giving you your cruise.

I thought about saying yes but as soon as she told me she would be collecting the $93 per person right then with my credit card, a red flag went up and I said no. If you have ever been on a cruise you would know that depending on the port the taxes can be different, there isn't a world wide flat port tax. I would recommend staying away because there are just to many hoops to jump through and that leaves a lot of opportunity to get taken advantage of.

And in the time it took me to write this they have already had another agent call me back to congratulate me on winning again. (10 minutes) I'm not that lucky! But it was nice to get a rep who wasn't chewing on a wildabeast and he did tell me to have a blessed day.

ToddDH July 13th, 2010 06:25 PM


I would strongly advise you to list yourself on the Federal no call list.

A couple of decades ago the phone rang and it was this or a similar outfit. I had an absolute ball. I was doing nothing at the time. I was able to string the idiot on the other end of the phone along for well over an hour (and at the time they were paying long distance).


Paul Motter July 16th, 2010 10:59 AM

60 days is typically the time limit after which you cannot cancel a credit card charge. That is why they almost always have some kind of 60 day wait.

justduped December 2nd, 2010 10:31 PM

I wish I had read this before I got involved with this company Land and sea promotions. I am trying to get my money back but they do keep you going until you just want to give up. They contacted a friend of mine and she said she did the research and they were ok but I should have checked myself. As of right now I am out over 600 dollars and I am trying to get my money back. If I have to I will go to small claims court. At least I had one person on the line with me and heard the lies that I was told. I almost didn't do it but I didn't listen to the voice in my head saying NO, NO, NO. I listened to my friend who by the way involved about 50 other people too. Hard Lesson learned.

mluv December 23rd, 2010 04:23 PM

hello i just would like to know if anyone has actually went on with paying the ADDTIONAL FEES and LIES this celebration cruises or floridabahamascelebration cruises? my girlfriend booked the trips and all but ended up paying for things we thought was covered. So i want to know, has anyone actually went through with this? was your stay the full 8 days and were you actually on the boat and where you actually booked in hotel? and everything? please respond asap if possible and also please message me for any more details.

momserpat November 4th, 2011 05:18 PM

Thank you so much for your information on the supposedly free 8 day 7 night cruise. I called and made an appointment for the 90 minute presentation and then found your web site. After reading about the problems others had I chose not to go to the presentation. Thank you for saving me and others a lot of trouble.

AR November 4th, 2011 07:28 PM

Goodness, this thread has suddenly taken an odd turn.

Never been scammed. I'm very fast on the hangup, I don't even listen to them, and I'm not interested in playing games with them.

But way back in 1977 I really thought Terry had been taken. At the time she was the newly-appointed chairman of the travel committee at work. When we got home one night she asked if I could get off for a particular week that she named.

"What's up?" I asked.

"Well, I got a call today from a Cunard guy asking if I'd like to see their brand new ship. Thinking it was just one of those deals where you get to come aboard for lunch and look around I said sure. He said great, how about the week of (whatever) for a cruise to Bermuda?"

Well, I didn't really believe this was for real, but it turned out I didn't have any shoots or anything that week, so I cleared my schedule. A charter bus to New York was supposedly included, to leave from a hotel about two miles from the house. There was no request for money, credit cards, or anything like that. We went to the hotel on the appointed day, and much to my surprise there was a luxury bus waiting, and our names were on the list. On the way to New York, I continued to prepare myself mentally for the probability that there would be no ship, and that the nature of the scam would become clear to us when we got there.

It wasn't until we were happily settled in our cabin, completely stocked with several quarts of booze, that I finally came to the conclusion that this was a standard fam cruise, and other than one presentation from Cunard about its new ship, there were no strings attached.

It was Cunard's abortive venture into smaller ships, which didn't last long, and this one was called the Cunard Princess. It was one of her first sailings, and one of the interesting things was that at the time she was under the command of the legendary Peter Jackson, who spent so many years as Master of the QE2.

It was our second trip to Bermuda (the first was our honeymoon), and we had a wonderful time thanks to Cunard.

No scam, but I sure was suspicious.

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