They'd thought it was a deal not to be missed. Turns out, however, that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
At least eight people were swindled of about $6,000 in total, after falling for a travel scam online, Shin Min Daily News reported on Tuesday (May 16).
They had seen an advertisement on Facebook promoting a tour package for Kundasang mountain in Sabah, Malaysia.
One affected customer, surnamed Zhan, 52, told Shin Min that she was directed to a WhatsApp conversation after being lured by the attractive promotion.
She ended up booking a three-night tour package for herself and a friend in April, through an agent named Alvin.
"We booked a package inclusive of the flight and accommodation, which cost about $678," said Zhan, who handed the agent their passport details so that he could make the necessary arrangements.
A photo of their text conversation in Chinese shown to Shin Min's reporter showed a message initiated by the agent on April 13.
Zhan stated that Alvin had told her he would send her an email confirmation after purchasing the tickets.
However, up till a week before the trip, they had not received any email from the agent.
Zhan shared that whenever she questioned Alvin, he would come up with various excuses for the delay.
"He kept saying that the company will arrange it. But even on the day we were supposed to set off, I had not received the tickets," Zhan stated.
She shared that in the end, Alvin explained that they did not manage to buy the tickets and Zhan would receive a full refund.
"However, I did not get the money and I'm unable to contact Alvin," said Zhan, who discovered that she was not the only victim.
She found several others online who were in the same predicament.
"The eight of us suffered losses of about $6,000 in total and we all have yet to receive a single cent," said Zhan, adding that they have since made a police report.
Zhan believes that there are more victims, however, as she'd seen agents responding to more than 100 queries on their Facebook page.
The Facebook page is believed to have been removed, reported Shin Min, after a search for it came up empty.
Another victim told the Chinese daily that they had received details of the flight and accommodation after badgering the agent for a response.
But upon closer examination, they realised that the details indicated were non-existent, and realised that they'd been had.
The victim, who was unnamed, told Shin Min that they lost about $2,000 to the ruse.
According to the Chinese daily, police confirmed that a report had been lodged and investigations are ongoing.
ALSO READ: Scam? Women ask Singaporean couple to buy them a meal after 'losing money' at Genting