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Caribbean Cruise Scam - What Can Be Done??

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Cheylana, May 2, 2013.

  1. Cheylana

    Cheylana Well-Known Member

    Does anyone have any experience with these various Caribbean Cruise scams that are out there? My niece (senior in college) got a call from one of them the other day, telling her she "won" a free cruise, and all she has to do is pay the port taxes of $100-something dollars, oh and you can stay in Fort Lauderdale for 2 nights with a rental car for $200 extra, offer expires as soon as the call is over, so no she doesn't have time to think it over, pressure pressure, blah blah. Before she knew it, she authorized $300 on her credit card so she could treat her parents to a cruise. :mad:

    As soon as she told me, I knew it was a scam, and loads of websites show it. It has a BBB "F" rating, there are a million hidden charges, you can only book during tiny slivers of the year (for instance, during hurricane season), oh and you have to attend a presentation in which they pressure you for four hours in a tiny room to buy a timeshare.


    I'm a licensed attorney, so I called them to demand a refund of the $300. The woman screamed at me and told me my niece is a liar, of course they told her she'd have to sit through a timeshare presentation, they have it on tape. I said great, play the tapes. She said we'll play the tapes when you file a lawsuit against us, and slammed the phone down on me.

    Is there nothing else I can do to force these scammers to issue my niece a refund, short of filing something in small claims court? I'd also like to know (1) how they got my niece's mobile number and (2) how I can raise awareness of these scammers to prevent others from getting sucked into it. One of her college classmates also got sucked into a similar scam the other day, so it seems like they go after naive college kids hard. :mad::mad::mad:
    Last edited: May 2, 2013
  2. Tesla

    Tesla Whippet Good

    Call the credit card company to dispute the charge.
  3. Cheylana

    Cheylana Well-Known Member

    Thanks....She did call the cc company, and they told her the charge had to clear before she could dispute it (it's still listed as "pending"). They told her it "could go either way" (in terms of whether she'd win the dispute).
  4. Tesla

    Tesla Whippet Good

    Good. I hope it swings her way.
  5. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    Asking for a refund from the credit card company is definitely the easiest route. I didn't get something I ordered online, and it was pretty painless to do that, even if I had no paperwork to show the item hadn't really arrived.

    I'm not really sure what there is to do about letting people know it's a scam, other than sharing it as a post on Facebook and tell everyone you know to share it. I've gotten some weird unsolicited "life tips" that way....
  6. numbers123

    numbers123 Well-Known Member

    I don't think that is just college students getting that phone call. I have gotten them once a month for nearly a year now. It is just the same old stuff that has been going on for years.

    I hope that the credit card company swings her way.
  7. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

    Contact your state's attorney general's office. They usually look into scams. My parents recently got a call that they had won something but had to give credit card number and bank account info to receive their unnamed prize. They played along long enough to get info about where they could send this information when they were able and then notified the state attorney general's office who had been aware of the scam but not previously had enough info to trace it.
  8. Cheylana

    Cheylana Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I really should contact the State AG about this.

    I also just noticed there is a website dedicated to exposing this scam: http://www.thecaribbeancruisescam.com/Consumer_Services.html

    According to this website (assuming they've got it right), under Florida law you have a right to a refund within 30 days of purchasing the vacation certificate. Cruise is two nights in Ft Lauderdale and then the cruise leaves from somewhere around there. So I think we should continue to press for a refund, in writing. And submit a copy of that refund request to the cc company.
  9. Lilia A

    Lilia A Well-Known Member

    Definitely not just college students they go after. They once called my dad and offered a similar deal. Despite being a very smart guy, my father doesn't usually spot scams right away. He once almost fell for a Kijiji scam (one of those "I'll mail you a money order for payment" and then you end up getting a fake money order for an insane amount of money and then are told to cash it, keep the payment amount, and then wire transfer the remaining amount via Western Union). It went as far as him getting the fake cheque in the mail. He burned the cheque and never contacted the guy again. It's a good thing we moved, because the scammer had our address :eek:

    Anyway, back to this cruise scam. He got the call, he put it on speaker and asked me to listen to what the woman was saying (since it appears that I'm good at spotting scams). After about 10 minutes of talk talk talk I gave it thumbs down and he said "no thanks, bye" and hung up. Not surprised when I later searched the company name and it had tons of bad reviews from people who fell for the scam. So it's not limited to naive college students. Oh and this was in Canada, so it seems like it's a North America wide thing.

    Hopefully your niece can find a solution to the problem. And hopefully these scams can be stopped soon.
  10. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

    I've gotten those calls before. I am a firm believer in the "if it sounds too good to be true.." mantra and actually, I have probably passed over many good offers from other things before because I didn't trust that there was no secret catch involved. I am not the most trusting person and that sucks sometimes but I never have to worry about falling for scams, haha. I feel badly for the people who come up to me and ask for money because I am convinced they all live in a mansion but are too lazy to work. :lol:

    I would definitely just try to deal with the credit card company. If you hound them enough they should reverse the charge. Even if there is a small fee, it is better than being out $300. I would lie to them if I had to, tell them you didn't authorize the charge. You know the scam people don't have anything on tape.
  11. Cheylana

    Cheylana Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry your dad went through all of that. :( I actually had a friend who is an accomplished physician, went to a bunch of name-brand schools and still fell for a cruise scam a couple of years ago. Not only that, they pressured her into buying a timeshare, and suddenly the "free" cruise miraculously became unavailable. My niece is also pretty brainy herself. This does happen to an awful lot of smart people.

    I'm trying to access her vacation information on their website, but log-in information doesn't work, so I can't access her vacation certificate to request a refund. And there's no "forgot your password?" type button. How convenient.
  12. Cheylana

    Cheylana Well-Known Member

    Me too! The second my niece mentioned this free cruise stuff, I blurted out, "It's a scam." She burst into tears, poor thing :(
  13. Lilia A

    Lilia A Well-Known Member

    You sound just like me, haha. It's instinct I guess.
  14. brina

    brina Well-Known Member

    I have gotten one of these calls before, perhaps a couple of years ago. Initially I was a little curious, but when it sounded too good to be true and told them no thanks, they argued with me. It is a shame this is still going on.
  15. Cheylana

    Cheylana Well-Known Member

    How are they getting people's cell phone numbers, though? It seems someone is selling the information to these jokers. My doctor friend filled out one of those little contest papers at a Milwaukee Brewers game, so either the Brewers sold the info to the cruise ship people or the Brewers allowed the the scammers to circulate the contest at their game. Disgusting, either way. It's why I refuse to enter into raffles and contests at sporting events and similar.
  16. Buzz

    Buzz Well-Known Member

    I get these calls fairly often and I just hang up on them. LOL
  17. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

    I remember when we signed up for DirectTV through AT&T and added a land line through them as well, they told us if we didn't want our number to go on some list we had to pay more money. I was outraged and got really frank with the man. It wasn't his fault but I felt this was such a scam for them to tell us we have to pay them more money if we don't want them giving away our number to people. This is just one of the many ways your cell phones, home phones, etc can all get out to people. You give it to someone (as in a company) and they sell it to someone else. It should be illegal, that number is mine and no one has a right to make money off of it. If anything, I should have the option of selling my number if I want to deal with those phone calls.
  18. Reuven

    Reuven Official FSU Alte Kacher

    Besides having our phones on the Do Not Call list, we don't answer the phone unless the caller ID shows a name or number we know. Especially if it's a toll-free number.
  19. bmcg

    bmcg Well-Known Member

    I have all my phones on Do Not Call list and still get calls.

    I'm cynical by nature so I never answer any questions on the phone. I also hate robots so if you start it with a robot I'm hanging up on you. I've had the cruise more times then I can count. Also the consolidate your credit call endlessly. Never give credit information over the phone if they are the ones calling you with unsolicited deals or prizes.

    But I did hesitate with the microsoft virus scam calls from India. The first time they called it just so happened to coincide with a time the kids were dealing with a virus on their laptop so he got lucky with his timing. Tells me they are a Microsoft technician and there is a problem with viruses being sent from my IP address. My internet and phone being with the same company added to the problem with the kids laptop and he had me for a second. Confused I told him to call back later, that I was on my way out. Went online and searched for similar phone calls and found many had fallen victim to this. He called back a week or so later. After he gave his virus speech I told him I'd researched this after their first phone call and was told Microsoft would never call your home. Asked him why no phone number shows up when he calls me. We went back and forth and he started to threaten me. I laid into him and told him I was reporting this call to the police. He said that he would call the police while he put me on hold. I just wanted to find out if he knew where I was located and actually somehow found out my IP address since the whole point of this is to hack into your computer. So I asked him what police he was going to call. He said your local police. I asked him who my local police were and he couldn't answer. So he's just calling random numbers and doesn't know where I'm located. He then threatened me again that I'd be sorry and I hung up on him. A few months later they call again. This time I told the guy on the phone that they already fixed my problem and I was really greatful, computer was running so well now. He was all confused and asking me if I was sure and I told him yes. He got further flustered and asked me if I was certain and if I gave my credit card number when we did this. I told him no, of course not, why would I need to give my credit card for fixing a virus? I thanked him again for all their help and said I'm really happy with the results. You could hear the confusion in his voice when he said "ok, you're welcome" and I cheerfully wished him a good day.


    Just wanted to share this as it seems to be increasing in frequency so others can be prepared. They intimidate you into feeling you and your computer are a serious menace and someone unsure might just feel pressured into sitting down in front of their computer and doing what they say.
  20. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

    Same here. I'm surprised that is not a no-brainer with more people. If I don't know the number, I let it go to voicemail, and my voicemail greeting specifically says that I will not return any calls unless they leave a message. If it's legit, they will leave a message. If not, oh well...

    I work as a receptionist, and it's always fun getting unsolicited sales calls at work. Our purchasing dept. refuses to deal with companies unless we already do business with them, and then there are those calls offering us free subscriptions to trade magazines (yep... always free until that first bill comes!). I just tell them there's no one available to give them the information they are looking for. It's especially amusing when clearly they are foreigners for whom English is far from being their first language, and they try to rephrase a question to which I've given a negative answer, like they're trying to trick me into giving info that I already told them I don't give out. I don't have a whole lot of patience when they start playing that game.
    Last edited: May 2, 2013
  21. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

    I'm the same way. Nothing is free. I don't contribute to charities that initiate contact with me over the phone either. 1. Because I don't know, for sure, if they are who they say they are. 2. Because most of the money goes to the paid solicitor. I'd rather make a direct donation and have the charity get it all.
  22. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    The problem is, the credit card company might not rule in her favor if the cruise company plans to actually deliver the product- it may or may not be an actual 'scam'. Some of these things actually do offer the cruise. In your case, you actually didn't receive anything, and the company you issued the chargeback against probably didn't fight it. Since this girl authorized the charge, the company has a case to fight it- unless the state has good cooling off/change mind laws (and a chargeback isn't the way to do that) she may not be able to win the chargeback.

    I've actually read a few postings on cruise critic about this 'deal' and people who really did go on the cruise. The window is very very small, the cruise line (Celebration?) that they put people on is very very bare bones, but the verdict was it wasn't a terrible deal to sit through a time share presentation and get a weekend crusie out of it. There are good and bad experiences in the comments
  23. numbers123

    numbers123 Well-Known Member

    If any has filled in any form, Internet or other forms, your phone number is known. I never got phone calls on my cell phone until i started using it for my primary number when ordering things off the internet, or registering for things. They can grab your number from anywhere. I find that many college students (actually many people) enter their phone number into social media such as Face Book as part of their profile. My phone syncs Facebook to my friends. You would be surprised as to how many of those are entered - mostly younger people who use it for people to text them

    i don't answer if i dont know answer. but lately i've been getting texts - they are supposed to stop when you type stop. But yesterday I got one where I had already sent stop to. I'm calling verizon for them to take care of it.
  24. Scrufflet

    Scrufflet Well-Known Member

    Absolutely love your thanking the guy for getting the problem fixed! :lol::lol:
    Seriously though, I think we've all been scammed at some point until we learned and hopefully didn't suffer too much financial loss.
    Many years ago my husband and I encountered the time share scam. We didn't know what it was and went to one of their "presentations". We faced high- pressure sales tactics (non-stop bombarding; one sales rep would do his bit then the next would pick up, machine-gun rapidity. It was like being in a police station being grilled in a murder investigation. No exaggeration here!) Silly me! I thought that I should honestly tell them that we had no interest in timeshare, that we didn't want to waste their efforts and that we would be leaving. They tried to prevent me from going to the washroom early on; that should have been a sign! Doors were blocked and they tried to block us. I became more vocal and it became clear that we were not going to back down and that we might ruin their other sales. As we left, one sales rep took a swat at my husband! I swear to you all that I am not exaggerating anything that took place here! In the parking lot, we sat there in disbelief! Here in Canada? In Toronto? My overall impression was how absolutely pathetic and desperate these people were and how horrible that this was a job they felt they had to do. We didn't pursue it further as I'm sure they are lawyered up and I didn't want to waste any more time on them. They didn't get a cent from us, I'm happy to say.
    Meanwhile, we have a policy that we do not do business on the phone or at the door. I hang up on sales pitches before they get into it. The computer one comes a lot but I ask them how they know that I even have a computer. Click. And I love to spread the word about these people!
  25. JasperBoy

    JasperBoy Aging in a great place

    I was visiting my ancient mother when her phone rang. I answered, and it was someone claiming to be from Microsoft. Her computer had a virus and they would tell her how to repair it. I knew this was a scam.
    My reply was that Mom did not own a computer, so did not need their services. For some reason the caller could not understand that Mom did not have a computer. I found the exchange a bit amusing, and tried again to convince her that there was someone in the world who did not own a computer. Caller insisted that her records show there was a virus. That soon got boring so I hung up. It just defied logic.
  26. Rob

    Rob Beach Bum

    I have gotten those calls, as has my husband and my 89-year old mother.
  27. Buzz

    Buzz Well-Known Member

    Just tell them you have a MacBook and the Apple store is next door so ******* Microsoft! hehehe And see what they say to that. :EVILLE:
  28. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    I think I told this story earlier -- my father got sucked into the Microsoft scam a few months ago. And he didn't even know he'd been scammed until computers came up in conversation at Christmas dinner, and he mentioned how happy he was with the service they'd provided. Particularly fixing a printer driver problem he'd been having. :confused: That's the weird thing about this particular scam: they're selling ridiculously overpriced service, unsolicited and fraudulently representing Microsoft, for something you almost certainly don't actually need ... but at least that's all they're doing. They're not harvesting your identity or other info from your computer, which would be far, far worse. My dad was out $250 or so, but at least that was the end of it.

    (I tell you, for a man who's so incredibly cynical, it's amazing how gullible he is when it comes to sales pitches.)

    Re: the cell phone cruise one, I just got one of those calls a couple of days ago. And it was while my phone was off so it was a voicemail recording. So I had to pay usage to listen to the recording. Only $0.60, nothing compared to $300, but it's the principle that irks me.
  29. purple skates

    purple skates Shadow Dancing

    Is this the one that starts out with a foghorn?
  30. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

    Please check your bill. I was receiving texts about celebrity news and I had enough so I finally texted STOP. I had been scared to text anything because I hoped they would think the number was not a good one but eventually I gave in. Once I sent that text message I began getting a $9.99 monthly charge! Texting STOP actually verified I was there and signed me up. I didn't realize for months.