Tuesday, July 26, 2011

THE SCAM!

If you came here from FACEBOOK, click HERE for a little background before you watch this video.

Sorry this all happened at 3:00 am our time.


In other words, 4 months ago we sent our Korean travel agent money to the app. sum of $9000 so he could book our family's vacation to Canada. Our travel agent called my niece one day before their departure (Tuesday 9:00 am) telling her that the tickets got cancelled.

The tickets were cancelled as a result of our travel agent not paying the airline company the money for the ticket. After contacting the travel agent ourselves from Canada he continued to say that he couldn't buy the tickets for us because he was having problems with his business. We told him he had 1 hour to come up with the money and make this right.

In the mean time we contacted a few of our connections in Korea. They too contacted the travel agent and he kept repeating the same thing: "I'm sorry I can't pay, I will try to pay you later...." We have asked what his plan was for how he was going to pay us back our ten thousand plus dollars and he didn't have an answer for us. I kept hearing Sung Hyun say over the phone "please explain to me what your plan is to return our money.....explain how you will get the money back to us please......explain how you will be able to afford to pay us this money in 1 month if you don't have it now?"

*EDIT -- This man has been my personal travel agent for the full duration of my time in Canada (5 years). I have purchased more than 20 tickets through him. So I don't believe I'm being naive for sending him such a large sum of money (since we were purchasing 4 tickets) and it's not like I had any reason not to believe he'd buy these tickets.

**EDIT -- The reason why Koreans book tickets through travel agencies is because the ticket prices are cheaper. In this case EVERY TIME I purchased a ticket in Korea I went on to various online ticketing sites to check for myself. I'm certainly not afraid and certainly aware of how to buy tickets myself. Even among different travel agents there is a price difference of a couple hundred dollars for the exact same ticket. And every time I book my tickets with THIS Korean company I also sent out an email to other travel agencies in Korea for a price request.

*** Thanks for all your comments they are insightful and are helping me! They are making me think of different options that I haven't pondered!

So as it stands, our family DIDN'T make it on the plane to Canada and we are out money for the airplane tickets. Additionally, all the events that I preplanned and paid for in Canada are non refundable including our two room/ two night stay at the hotel in Calgary.

We've been SCAMMED!

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Holy shit.

Anonymous said...

Ehm. Why didn't you just book tickets by yourself online?! Easiest thing in the world...

Why am I here??? said...

Yah holy shit Anony #1, I think I'm in shock mode right now.

And yah, Anony #2 that's something my brother would say so I'm going to write this comment off as him ;)

JC Oh said...

Awww. that really sucks. Hope at least you get the money eventually from the agent.. I think your hubby can file a law suit or file a report to the police in korea as long as there is prove of the transaction.

Anonymous said...

Jen, honey, I'm really sorry, but WHY would you send all this money to somebody? Please don't do these things! You can go online and make reservations/payments yourself! Don't be so trusting. $9000 is a lot of money to send to somebody on the other side of the world!

I really, really hope you get it back. Do you have proof that you sent this money and that it was for tickets? If yes, can somebody in Korea contact a lawyer for you and get him working on getting your money back.

Shelley said...

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I doubt you'll ever see that money again, unless you get someone there to break the man's knees.
This is absolutely terrible!!! I can't believe this has happened to you. But Jenn, you are a pretty smart girl, and have loads of travel experience, why would you send a travel agent that much money? You could have booked the tickets online yourself and it would have been the easiest thing in the world! Or gone to a travel agent in CANADA and had the tickets booked. I hate how some lessons have to be learned the hard way... I'm not trying to be an a-hole, which I know you might be thinking I am being right now..I am just so freaking skeptical about sending money to people I have never met, or in a different country.
I feel so so so bad for you and Sung Hyun, and his family. I can't even imagine how they must be feeling, after being excited about having a reunion.
My thoughts are with you Jenn and your hubby and his family...

Why am I here??? said...

Yes understood! I guess I should mention that this man has been my travel agent for 5 years. I have purchased ALL my tickets with him because as a foreigner it's difficult to book tickets out of Korea. This man has purchased probably over 20 tickets for me alone in the past 5 years. So NEVER did I think this would happen....

Shelley said...

Ok, just watched the video...didn't realize you worked with the guy for 5 years.
This just makes it worse....there really are some nasty a-holes out there.

I'm sorry Jenn....

Why am I here??? said...

Thanks Shelley! The funny thing is this same thing just happened to someone in MY city in Canada. SO I'M CERTAINLY NOT TRYING TO SAY THIS IS A KOREAN THING (and I know your not suggesting that either). Some people are just..........really dishonest!!!! And it's too bad!

But you're right, I'm young and smart and certainly will learn from this situation.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, I would call the hotels and places in Canada. Ask to talk to a manager. CALMLY explain what happened. Ask them if there is any way they can do a full or partial refund. Or is there any way they can give you credits for future use (say, good for one year?).

Heck, call the airline, and ask for proof that they never had tickets in their names in writing. Offer to send the places proof (in writing) that this guy scammed you. I KNOW they say they're non-refundable, but most places would rather have one happy customer when a clusterfuck like this happens than the money. Honestly.

Did you pay for anything on a credit card? Does your card have any protections? I know my cards automatically include some sort of insurance, although I don't know if this would be covered.

As for a Korean lawsuit, good luck with that. Anyone who's worked in Korea more than 6 months knows at least one person who should have gotten money, and who even got a judgement for one, but who never got paid.

Why am I here??? said...

Thanks anon,

I called the HOTEL and talked to the manger and EXPEDIA (which is where I booked the hotel through) and they both say that the reservation is FINAL and cannot be changed (even by 1 day) or cancelled (even for a partial refund).

We have proof of a wire transfer of the funds from an account in Korea so there is a trace. We are putting the piece and writing the timeline slowly!!!!

Thanks for the info EVERYONE.... each bit makes me think of something else we can do.

Anonymous said...

Look, Expedia isn't going to help you. Can you GO to the hotel? Can you put it in writing and go UP the chain of command in the hotel? Do you have any consumer protection agencies or news hounds who love stories like this? If the news contacted the hotel for a comment, they'd likely refund the money. (I'm just brainstorming here.)

Why am I here??? said...

Good point Anon, I'm going to draft a letter to the hotel tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Is there a lawyer you can contact in Korea? I'm sorry to say I don't believe you can this on your own. A lawyer would have more weight.

Why am I here??? said...

Hey Anon,

Looking into the lawyer RIGHT now!

Foreigner Joy said...

Don't give up on this no matter what, okay!!

Khamela said...

Wow...I really hope you get this resolved.

Kimberly Ann said...

Jen my heart hurts for you and your family. The feeling you all must be feeling. Like your stomach has flew up into your throat I would imagine. I hope something can be salvaged. Be strong.

lara said...

it would be interesting to see the effect of visiting the idiot ...what's his name & where's the agency located? ...not that I could actually make anything happen, but it certainly couldn't hurt to pay him a visit ...if they haven't already, at least have the family in Korea report it to the cops (at the police station in the gu where the travel agent is located).

Shelley said...

What a HASSLE! I am definitely not saying this is a Korean thing, because this crap happens here in India all the time. The only reason i say that it might have been better to deal with an agent in Canada, is because then if you were scammed, you were at least in the SAME country to be able to deal with these problems, and there might be more laws to protect you. Dealing with this an ocean apart will NOT be easy. But at least by you fighting then it will at least make it difficult for this guy.

Do you still have friends there who can help you? Yes, a lawyer is probably the best bet (besides hiring some Korean goons;)

I am really hoping and praying this works out for you. I think you're up for a long hard battle but definitely don't let this bugger get away with scamming you!

How is Sung Hyun? How are your in-laws? My heart really is with them right now. I can't imagine the anticipation of seeing your mother/son and then this....

Anonymous said...

Oh my god. I'm so sorry :( This is just horrible on so many levels. You must just be feeling sick right now. A few people on Dave's ESL Cafe have have been posting about a similar experience. It must be the same one.
I hope you are able to find recourse.

A. Lee said...

Wow Jen. I've been reading (lurking) your blog for a long time, and I just had to say I am so sorry. I can imagine how disappointed everyone must be right now. I am even disappointed because I was so looking forward to seeing all the pictures, but I am sure that doesn't even compare to your disappointment.

If you can't get a refund for the hotel, you and SH should use the hotel room for a little getaway from your parent's house. My hubby and I live with my mom too, and it is really nice just to go stay away for a night or two.

Good luck, and please keep us all updated.

Why am I here??? said...

Daves ESL.....never thought to check there but I'm certainly going to now.

Shelley said...

A. Lee: GREAT IDEA!
You and Sung Hyun should go to Calgary together and use the hotel that you've already paid for. I know it will not be the same, but after this, maybe it would be good for you both to get away.
At least then you won't like the money has gone to waste.

You have a lot of people on your side Jenn, stay strong. Hope all is well...

"sunny" said...

It sucks big time. I heard the tickets are way more expensive if bought from over there? But, if you could get someone on THIS side to get them for you...

Anonymous said...

Seriously sad to hear this news! I know how much you were all looking forward to it and I'm sure that it's heartbreaking for everyone. My heart goes out to you and I hope that you are able to recover the money for this transaction!!! I hope it is resolved quickly too!

Kendra said...

So sorry to hear about this! You know sometimes you hear about people that always have stuff happen to them (good and bad). Well, that is YOU and you know why I think that is? Because you are living life. You are taking some (calculated) risks, which this time you didn't even think it was a risk. And if it would have went the way you planned it it would have been amazing, but instead the opposite is true. I hope this is making sense, but what I am actually trying to say is that I hope this is not getting you down and that you still take risks and live life BIG. If you do, it will be no time at all before you can bring your family to Canada.

Take care of your self and your husband!

Helena said...

Oh man. I'm so sorry. That's just horrible.

Anonymous said...

Hope you've had some good news over the past few days. If you didn't, don't give up! And please don't ignore the other aspects of your life (health, diet, work, etc.). In moments of high stress, it's so important to have something else to focus on, so you don't go crazy.

DeltaEagle said...

http://blog.naver.com/pters/150117750585
I don't know about your Korean skills, but there are others - Koreans and non-Koreans - who want to bring justice to the scammer of Zenith Travel.
Since his targeted victims were mostly foreigners without sufficient time to take measures against him and currently being scattered around, the first step would be to gather up and join your efforts.

Dana said...

I had the same thing happen to me. What he does is book the ticket, you pay, then he sends you the e-ticket, and then he calls the flight company back and cancels the ticket. But, he only emails you back the night before your flight, or the day of, so he can make you maybe pay more for a last minute flight. He's been doing this for such a long time, and I'm REALLY surprised he's still able to do it. I know the police has been called, lawyers have been involved, but nothing has happened. You posted a comment on my blog about your situation. I'm sorry you had such a great loss. Thanks www.citisenoftheworld.blogspot.com

Valerie Hamer said...

I am so sorry you got scammed. he did something similar to my friend who was left stranded at a US airport, part way through a multi leg trip from Korea.

Maybe it's some consolation that he has been arrested at last. I sure hope the K government step in to help his victims.

Good luck and keep us posted.

John from Daejeon said...

Here's some of the latest information regarding those scum.

Looks like the walls are finally closing in on him. Hopefully, they will be jail cell walls soon.