A SURPRISE 50th birthday party in Mallorca has been ruined by holiday rental scammers.
At least two other victims have also lost money to the latest gang of fraudsters damaging the island’s reputation globally.
The British victims lost over €5,000 between them, after contacting Booking Villas Mallorca, based out of Porreres.
The first, Simone Byrne, from Shropshire, was conned out of a €1,900 deposit for a villa break meant as a surprise present for her husband Bryan’s 50th birthday.
Simone found the perfect seven-bedroom villa in Son Veri Nou, near Palma, which included a guest apartment, heated swimming pool, sauna and jacuzzi, spread out over 1,300m2 landscaped gardens.
She contacted the website and believed she’d booked Villa Yasminne for seven nights in August next year.
But after paying the deposit in the name of a man called Juan Manuel Pelaez Mejias, she failed to get a booking confirmation.
When she tried to contact the company she was put through to a voicemail, while all emails were ignored.
“I felt physically sick when I realised I’d been scammed,” Simone, 47, told the Olive Press this week.
“I was trying to keep it to myself and couldn’t say anything to my husband because it was meant to be a surprise and now it’s gone pear-shaped,” added the mother-of-four, who works in customer care at Aga Rangemaster.
She added that her bank was hoping to reverse the payment, but because it is a transfer the crooks may have already withdrawn the money.
“I might have to claim against the bank in Spain because it’s obvious it’s a scam. I’m just hoping that the bank will be investigating it,” she added.
She has since reported it to Action Fraud in the UK.
“I’d been working overtime and squirreling all the money away as a surprise gift. All our children were coming with their partners, as well as my parents in law,” she added.
“Now I can’t afford to make any other plans for Bryan’s 50th unless I get the money back.”
She continued: “Hopefully by raising awareness it might stop someone else from being scammed.”
It comes after we reported last month how at least 300 victims in Spain, with at least 100 cases in the Balearics alone, had been fleeced out of €600,000.
The situation has become so severe over the past few years that Spain’s National court has taken on the investigation of fake rental scams in a bid to stop the criminals.
In the Balearics, Mallorca Villas has certainly scammed many other victims.
Another victim, Ross Cowie, from Scotland, lost €3,350 after he paid the full amount for another villa rental.
He told the Olive Press he is kicking himself after agreeing to pay the full amount, plus a security rental deposit of €600.
“I very stupidly paid it all by bank transfer,” he added.
Ross, who works as a sales director in Kuwait, explained that he was sent copies of contracts with the villa owner’s bank details.
Mallorca Villas requested that two days before they were to travel they were to contact them to advise if they wanted to be picked up from Palma airport, or where to collect the keys.
“If I hadn’t requested clarifications we would have only found out when we got there that it was a scam.”
The Olive Press this week visited the listed office of the company Booking Villas Mallorca Rental in Porreres, as well as a separately listed booking office, in Palma.
Both were empty apartments with no sign of any companies.
We will be passing on our information to the police.
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