Homeowner feels “very vulnerable.”
A north London property owner was surprised by unexpected visitors to her home who thought they had reserved a stay through Booking.com.
“Someone knocked on my door. I opened it and it was this poor, very tired woman, presumably from Hong Kong, her daughter at the end of the gate,” Gillian explains.
“They said they’d booked my house with Booking.com.”
The pair were the first of around 100 people who thought they had reserved Gillian’s property through the global accommodation booking website.
“She looked aghast and I said, ‘You’ll just have to go back to them. I’m sorry, there’s some misunderstanding’.
“A few hours later I had about three or four people visiting knocking on my door saying they’d booked my house with Booking.com.
“They came from all over the world: Australians who’d just arrived, there were some people from Saudi Arabia, some people from the north of England, and I just couldn’t believe it.”
According to reports, one tourist claimed that he called Booking.com on the morning of the intended stay and was assured the property was genuine and the reservation was secure.
“It was obviously a scam, and someone had used my address,” Gillian said.
“I felt so sorry for those tourists knocking on my. All I could do was send them away.
“I feel very worried about it. They’re very nice people, but perhaps one day we might get some people knocking on the door who actually are quite aggressive. I feel very vulnerable.”
Despite Gillian reporting the scam the following day, a further 80 people showed up at her door.
A spokesperson for Booking.com said: “We take safety and security very seriously, and every week, we facilitate millions of stays with the vast majority taking place with absolutely no problems.
“Scams are unfortunately a battle many industries are facing against unscrupulous fraudsters looking to take advantage and it is something we are tackling head on.
“We have a number of robust security measures in place, but in the very rare instance there may be an issue with a specific property we always investigate immediately.
“We can confirm this property has been completely removed from our site and all customers are being contacted by a member of our customer service team to apologise and offer any support required in relation to refunds, relocations and additional fees, as well as of course extending our apologies to the homeowner.”