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A travel agent con artist attempting steal thousands of euros

In the spring and summer of 2016 I was in touch with four scammers: horse riding lessons scammer Victor Smith, event scammer Michelle Dormanen, art scammer Albert Spencer and wedding scammer Anthony Martinex. I played around with them, made them think I was falling for their scam, then burst their balloon at the bitter end and told them no, I was not going to send them thousands of euros, pounds, dollars or whatever.

Please don’t let any scammers know about this web page! The objective here is to make these miscreants waste their time on people like me who haven’t been fooled for a second, distracting them from baiting others who might fall for their scam.

On September 15th 2017 I received a message from “Richard Matt”, where he asked me about accommodations and didn’t specify anything about where or of what kind. This inquiry is wildly ridiculous because I’m a photographer and have nothing to do with hotels, real estate or accommodations.

Elite Travel Agency’s home page.

Elite Travel Agency’s home page as it appeared on September 16th 2016, hacked together with insipidly banal stock photos & clipart, and just four links: “About us”, “UK Visas”, “Quote request” and “etagencyltd@gmail.com”. The first three links result in 404 page not found messages displaying; when I checked on January 31st 2018 I saw this domain name now hosts a Swedish porn video site. Apparently we’re now supposed to head along to this site if we want to get ripped off for thousands of dollars:

Euro Travel Agency’s home page

On September 26th 2017 (two weeks before eltravelagency.com was scheduled to expire) someone took out the www.eurotravelagency.com domain name, complete with an SSL security certificate to inspire confidence, and a much more serious page layout, attempting to look like a bona fide travel agent web site. As always, and now more than ever, it’s important take anything you read or hear with a grain of salt. This site is mirrored from www.euroasiatravel.co.uk, a site that can thus be considered equally suspect, as well as all the other links leading out from either web site.

The only connection might be that I photograph apartments regularly and Mr. Matt might have found me by searching Google for apartment, Paris, accommodations, or who knows what. He has to be completely boneheaded to think I manage hotels after looking at a page about me following his search on Paris and apartments.

I searched eltravelagency.com on Google and somewhere after the first half-dozen results I found a page in Greek saying the site is run by scammers: “Hotels accept reservations from a distance (via e-mail) in which prolific “agents” ask them to charge cards whose data have been intercepted by the actual owners themselves and then requested the business to assign their commission via Western Union, or by way of remittance in order, as they claim, to send them other reservations. Bookings are mostly made from the following travel agencies: Elite Travel Agency… they request that the commission be sent by wire transfer to a bank account in England (Halifax & Barclays)”.

A few more results after that I found two more pages in Greek saying basically the same thing. Checking WhoIs records on the site shows that it was created on October 10th 2016 and will expire on October 10th 2017. I don’t know much about about domain name longevity though I imagine this is further evidence that the site is a fly-by-night affair and has only been created to make Elite Tours Agency appear to be a real and bona fide business.

Here’s the story:


September 15th 2017

Subject: Accommodation Inquiry

From: Richard Matt, <etagency@ukadvisors.com>

Hi,

I write to confirm if there are available rooms for a group of 6 people for 7 nights starting from Oct 23rd to Oct 30th, 2017. We want 6 single rooms or 6 double rooms

This is an official trip. Please send over quotation if you can accommodate them for the period

Awaiting your response,
Richard Matt

This message is hopelessly non-sequitur because he hasn’t specified in which city he needs the accommodations, or what quality he’s interested in: budget, mid-range or luxury. So for the fun of it I assumed “he’s interested” in high-end lodgings in Paris, and wrote back:


Hello Richard,

Thank you for writing! Certainly I have rooms available for your group in that last week of October. The rooms in my hotel are luxurious and offer the utmost in comfort with wonderful views over the city of Paris.

You may make reservations at 300 euros per night, please don't hesitate to ask further questions, and do keep me posted as your travel plans to Paris take shape!

All the best,
David

Months later I’ve been informed that this bonehead sent basically the same letter below to other people on January 30th 2018 and February 19th 2018 and who knows how many other times as well:


September 16th 2017

From: "Elite Travels" <etagencyltd@gmail.com>

Thanks for your response

I'm happy to inform you that we are prepared to affirm the reservation. In any case, before that, I have a few inquiries, kindly discover them beneath:

Do you accept credit card?

Due to past experience, we want to make full payment now, will that be accepted?

We have arranged an agency fee of 45% of total rental fee with our clients as our commission so you need to increase your room rate to accommodate that. Could you please send us another quotation with our commission so we can send it over to our customers?

We get our commission when you get the full payment, I trust that won't be an issue with you

NOTE: we have worked things out with our clients and we can assure that there won't be any cancellation once the reservation is fully confirmed

Please let us know if you are still interested in making the reservation for us base on the above stated conditions.

Best Regards,

Richard Matt
Elite Travel Agency

T020 323 95851 Address: Flat 7 White Hill House,
F020 814 47507 53-55 Balham Hill
Eetagencyltd@gmail.com London, SW12 9DR
Elite Travel Agency logo

As it happens, he sent me this message the same day a replacement web site/domain was made for him: eurotravelagency.com, shown above. I wrote back:

Hello Richard,

I’m very pleased you have chosen us for your accommodation needs in Paris! We can indeed accept payment by bank card through PayPal.

There’s no problem with full payment ahead of time, or a 50% downpayment a week before is fine also. Adding your agency fee of 45% to the room rate of 300 euros per night results in a daily fee of 435 euros.

For six rooms this amounts to 2,610 euros per night and for eight nights, October 23rd to the 30th, the total is 20,880 euros. I’ll be happy to transfer your commission of 45% on receipt of your payment and I’m reassured by your level of professionalism in that there will be no cancellation once the reservation is confirmed.

Please let me know if you have further questions or need additional information…

All the best,
David

To be continued…? Towards the end of December 2017 I received an idiotic e-mail from Peter Tetteh, asking me to purchase airplane tickets for him.


The mailbox

October 2nd 2017

Hi David

We too have had the same contact from Richard Matt. I have played along with it this last days. He has now sent us the credit card numbers to be charged.. Have you had any further correspondence?. If I was in the UK I would forward it to the police as his company name is supposedly based in London. But im in SE Asia now working.

I figured out it was a scam after trying to call him as I had my suspicions the way he conducted his business. What travel agency works like this. The fool! Do people actually fall for this!?

What's your advice? Have you notified police?

Thanks for posting your blog.

Kindest regards
Dawn Mia Renne


Hello Mia,

I haven’t heard from Richard Matt for two weeks now, since September 15th 2017. I had three exchanges from him, then… nothing, I don’t know why. It might be that he did a bit more research on me and saw that I’m a photographer, have nothing to do with hotels or providing accommodations in Paris, and was likely playing around with him.

It could be that he had someone else “gathering leads” who (obviously) isn’t very competent. He took my info provided by the lead provider, wrote me a few times, then decided to search information about me for himself once I appeared to be falling for his scam, and decided I wasn’t worth pursuing.

I doubt that contacting the police would help much, it doesn’t matter much that you or I are not in England because “Richard Matt” probably isn’t either and English police wouldn’t be able to find Mr. Matt, do anything about him or whatever.

I imagine that people do indeed fall for scams like Mr. Matt’s, that’s why it’s important that anyone who’s been contacted by him and haven’t been fooled write web pages that others can find by searching Google.

I don’t have any advice, have fun and play around with him if you feel like it, write about experience on web pages that can be found on Google…

All the best,
David


January 30th 2018

Hi David

I’ve read your article about “Richard Matt” and that helped us to confirm our doubts. He still operates, now under another agency name. You can read below if you are interested. Many thanks for that.

Best regards,
Laurence Monclard
CEO, Meeting the French
meetingthefrench.com | +33 1 42 51 19 80
25 rue Michel le Comte, Paris 75003 France


From: Euro Travel Agency, <info@eurotravelagency.com>

Date: 2018-01-30 8:32 GMT+01:00

Subject: Re: Rooms Inquiry for 7 People

Greetings from Euro Travel Agency

I write to substantiate if there are offered rooms for a group of 7 people for 12 nights starting from March 5th to March 17th 2018. We wish 7 single rooms or 4 double rooms.

The reservation is for business. Please send over quotation if you'll be in a position to accommodate them for the period

Awaiting your response
Richard Matt


Dear Richard,

Thank you for your message!
Are you looking for a B&B or a hotel (3 star, 4 star)?

Kind regards,
Vincent

This idiot sent the same letter below to me on September 16th 2017 and to the Ansino Bukit Hotel on February 19th 2018 and who knows how many other times as well:


January 30th 2018

Thanks for your response

I'm happy to inform you that we are prepared to affirm the reservation. In any case, before that, I have a few inquiries, kindly discover them beneath:

Do you accept credit card?

Due to past experience, we want to make full payment now, will that be accepted?

We have arranged an agency fee of 45% of total rental fee with our clients as our commission so you need to increase your room rate to accommodate that. Could you please send us another quotation with our commission so we can send it over to our customers?

We get our commission when you get the full payment, I trust that won't be an issue with you

NOTE: we have worked things out with our clients and we can assure that there won't be any cancellation once the reservation is fully confirmed

Please let us know if you are still interested in making the reservation for us base on the above stated conditions

Best Regards,
Richard Matt
Euro Travel Agency Ltd

T020 7245 9649 Address: 94 Parkwood Road, Isleworth, TW7 5HD
F084 4774 9990 Site: www.eurotravelagency.com
Einfo@eurotravelagency.com London, SW12 9DR

Richard Matt is still at it, someone at the Ansino Bukit Hotel forwarded me this message. This cretin sent the same letter below to me on September 16th 2017, to the Meeting the French agency on January 30th 2018 and who knows how many other times as well:

February 19th 2018

Thanks for your response

I'm happy to inform you that we are prepared to affirm the reservation. In any case, before that, I have a few inquiries, kindly discover them beneath:

Do you accept credit card?

Due to past experience, we want to make full payment now, will that be accepted?

We have arranged an agency fee of 45% of total rental fee with our clients as our commission so you need to increase your room rate to accommodate that. Could you please send us another quotation with our commission so we can send it over to our customers?

We get our commission when you get the full payment, I trust that won't be an issue with you

NOTE: we have worked things out with our clients and we can assure that there won't be any cancellation once the reservation is fully confirmed

Please let us know if you are still interested in making the reservation for us base on the above stated conditions

Best Regards,
Richard Matt
Euro Travel Agency Ltd

T020 7245 9649 Address: 94 Parkwood Road, Isleworth, TW7 5HD
F084 4774 9990 Site: www.eurotravelagency.com
Einfo@eurotravelagency.com

Карина Галустян wrote me this message on February 19th 2018:

Thank you for your web page informing about that kind of fraud!

These scammers are still in effect and found us, but thanks to you we understood with whom contacted.

С уважением,
Карина


March 14th 2018

Hello Mr. David Henry

Warm greetings from Mongolia. Thank you for warning me not to get scammed, I too had email conversation started with email titled “5pax accommodation”.

It was strange but I sent accommodation quotation and and tour details. After few days exchanging emails, we want me to advise about getting payment by only credit card.

Then it went strange and I looked on the internet and found your website. Now he (she?) is using the name of Alan J Hicks. I wrote this email to just say thank you for helping me to confirm it was scam.

Kind Regards,
Tsovoo Baatarzevseg
Tour Manager
Tel: +976 86559395
Orig Travel LLC,
Peace Tower, Suite #1108 Chingeltei district, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia


March 9th 2018

Subject: 5pax accommodation
From: Alan J Hicks, <makebookinghome@gmail.com>

Hi Tsovoo,

Thank for your respond. We are sorry for our late reply. Name: Elite Travel And Tour

UK Office:
Address: 31 Milliners Court Milliners Court St. Albans, Al1 3Xt UK
Phone: + 447452255640

GUESTS DETAILS
NAME: AFFORD S. SIOSIUA
ADDRESS: 4585 Georgia St San Diego, CA 92116
Tel: 915 229 3397

Kindly let us know if you can meet our booking request.

Regards,
Booking Manager™
Alan J. HICKS

T074 512 08550
F020 814 47507
Address: 2nd Floor, Greenhill House, 90-93 Cowcross Street, London, EC1M 6BF

March 23rd 2018

Hello David,

The “Elite Travel Agency” is still out there and this time he changed his name to “Alan J. HICKS”.

This is sent to my work mail, he did some researches about my accommodation and tried to contact me. I tried to Google this “agency” right away and found your post. Lucky me! And thank you for your post! It helps me throughout this scam.

I received email of “E travel” from 2 different email addresses:
“Alan J. HICKS” <customercare@etraveltours.agency> and
E Travel <elitetravelandtours1199@gmail.com>

He continued to ask for alternative periods of 2-week-reservation and local tour bookings. After that he did contact me on viber through this number: +447451208550.

Below is what he wrote to my hotel to book a reservation for “14 days”

Ngan Nguyen


Greetings,

Will you be able to accommodation 5PAX for period of 14nights? Request date as followed - May 3rd until May 17th, 2018.

If yes, two or three rooms are needed base on your available rooms. So therefore, let me know quotation on three rooms if available, if not, please advise me quotation on two rooms.

Some 4days tour programs are require during the visit. Let us know what you can offer or you link us with tour agency around.

Don't hesitate to write us with complete response to our booking request above.

T074 512 08550
F020 814 47507
Address: 2nd Floor, Greenhill House, 90-93 Cowcross Street, London, EC1M 6BF

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