With the Qatar 2022 World Cup, travel fraud is also coming back

When Diego and his family went to Brazil World Cup 2014 they were encouraged to do so with one of the agencies authorized by the organizing committee to sell packages and match tickets. They wanted to repeat the experience at Russia 2018, but almost missed the event due to fraud.

Four years ago, they were among the nearly 600 people stranded in Mexico and with the uncertainty of whether they were going to enjoy the World Cup at the hands of Mundomex. The package for Diego, his father and his brother, fans at heart, was 15 evenings, three games against Mexico in the group stage and two additional games.

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“We were to go out on the evening of June 14, the day of the inauguration. The problem was precisely on the 14th in the afternoon, about five or six hours before the flight, they told us that the flights had been canceled because they had problems with the airline. Now we had to leave on the morning of the 16th,” he recalls.

Mundomex has reported being the victim of fraud by the Canadian Global Chartersdedicated to the rental of charter planes, since it left them without the operation of two planes which were to transport the supporters on June 14.

“With the support of FMF, Aeroméxico and MATCH Hospitality, we managed to secure the necessary transport for our customers to reach Russia,” he said in a press release.

Some fans and relatives of the players managed to walk out without problems as the agency made arrangements with Aeroméxico, but there were more who stayed. They paid for their accommodation and transferred them to Toluca airport, he recalls.

Upon arrival at the scene, there was still no confirmed flight. They were told they were going to leave at 9 a.m., but finally at 5 p.m. they began to board; actually them and at least 200 other people they didn’t know if they were going to make it to the Mexico-Germany gameone of the most attractive.

“Who knows what the pilot did to get a route cleared by those who manage the airspace and he raffled it off on a flight that was supposed to be 14-15 hours. We arrived in Russia two hours before the match. There were no people migrating, we left the airport quickly and 40 minutes before the match we arrived at the stadium,” he said.

Profeco was responsible for fixing the problem and monitoring compliance with the purchased travel packages. The agency said there were no direct complaints from those affected to the agency, as it was responsible for securing the flights so the affected fans could travel to Russia.

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Diego mentions that with the experience of 2018, they better decide on a travel quote without the official agency. “I know it can be a bit more expensive, but there have been cases of scams and I think if you have the option, it is better to play it safe. If an official agency has been the victim of a scam, imagine an unofficial agency.

The call is reinforced

In the crosshairs are already suppliers who promote packages with flights, accommodation and match tickets even when they are not authorized to do so, says the Federal Consumer Protection Agency (Profeco). Among those already detected are names such as Kalinka Tours, Viajes al Mundial and Mexicotour.

Additionally, deals that only include flights, accommodation, transportation, or food are also likely to be a scam.

Round-trip flights, accommodation in 4-star hotels, transportation, gift kits, translators, guarantees, financing plans and travel insurance are some of the items included in the packages offered by some of these sites.

At least three of the 15 suppliers mentioned They only have contact by mail or WhatsApp without a physical address. The packages vary, depending on the number of nights of travel, are offered from almost 30,000 pesos to 70,000 pesos.

The deception of the withdrawal occurs due to lack of information or ignorance of the fans and there is always someone who benefits from it, believes Gabriel Galván, leader of the Ola Verde group which has accompanied the Mexican national team in its matches since 2009.

“People are promised quality hotels or apartments and when they arrive it’s an old and distant place, but they say: ‘I’m here, I’ve already paid, I’ll see later how I claim and if I request a refund.’ Many people simulate the trip and take what they have been given, that in the best of cases. There are those who leave them without flight, without accommodation or tickets (for the matches), “he recalls.

In case there isn’t enough time to document, he suggests fans play it safe with authorized travel and match ticket agencies: MATCH Hospitality Mexico (Zest Events), Lusso Travel and Mundomex.

Eduardo Paniagua, president of the Mexican Association of Travel Agencies (AMAV), says the risk of deception of travel packages in Qatar is up to 80% in portals that pretend to be agencies, because there is no there is no certainty that the promise will be kept.

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“When you buy on a platform and they ask you to deposit the payment or advance to a natural person, that’s fraud, don’t even look back. If they ask you to deposit in convenience stores and what are you still doing, stop there. These types of events are organized by well-established companies and legal entities,” he says.

In the AMAV, they received the report of agencies that, in general, offer fraudulent packages, which have already been reported to the cyber police, according to the official. Ask that in case of detection of lies or deception, a complaint be filed with the authorities.

Tips for going to Qatar

Specialists take certain basic aspects into account to avoid falling into the trap of scams. For example, Gabriel Galván mentions that since the date is already close, many people are encouraged to organize a quick trip, so it is better to buy the flights first, then the tickets for the matches and finally the accommodation, because this is only allowed if the fan has already purchased games.

Representatives of the AMAV, they mention that if a package is purchased from an agency, it is necessary to verify that it is verified or affiliated with an organization, registered in the national tourism register or that it has the badge Profeco digital badges that provide assurance that services are regulated.

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