ILOILO CITY—The offer was hard to resist.
For P6,500, vacationists going to Boracay Island can rent the “Olivero’s Transient House,” a two-room house for three days and three nights.
Imee (not her name) paid P5,000 in advance through a cash transfer outlet and was looking forward to going to the popular island-resort along with 14 family members.
But she became suspicious when the travel agent, who identified herself as Mary Hope Pascua, insisted on getting the full payment in advance.
After checking with the local government of Malay and the Department of Tourism (DOT), Imee found out that the Olivero’s Transient House did not exist as well as the address given.
“We were not able to go there because I discovered that it was a sham,” Imee told the Inquirer in a telephone interview. She requested that her identity be withheld for security reasons.
The nonexistent hotel is different from the Oliveros Place in the capital town of Kalibo which is a legitimate business.
Imee repeatedly tried calling Pascua through mobile phone but there was no response.
She said she found the online offer under the name of “mhpascua” at www.sulit.com.ph, a popular Philippine buy and sell website.
Aside from the details of the offer, the advertisement provided a contact number for bookings. The advertisement has since been taken down.
Pascua asked Imee to deposit the payment through a cash transfer outlet in Quezon City. She also sent scanned copies of the business permit and mayor’s permit, but Imee said she later found out that these too were fake.
The Boracay Tourist Assistance Center (BTAC), Boracay’s police office and the DOT-Boracay said the scam had victimized at least two groups of tourists who went to the island on March 27.
Tim Ticar, DOT-Boracay officer in charge, said a group of
10 tourists arrived in Caticlan, the jump-off point to Boracay, and found out that there was no such hotel on Boracay. Another group which booked to stay at the “Capuli Transient House” also suffered the same fate.
The tourists paid P6,000 in advance also through cash transfer outlets.
The DOT and the BTAC assisted the two groups of tourists in finding accommodations in Caticlan because hotels were fully booked and expensive especially during Holy Week.
Ticar said the scam was apparently operated by the same group because the two hotels have the same addresses.
The address—Road 2, Manoc-Manoc, Caticlan, Boracay Island—is obviously fake for those familiar with Boracay because Caticlan is not on Boracay but in the mainland.
Ticar said they had issued advisories to warn tourists. He also advised vacationers to book directly with the hotel.
He said tourists could also call the DOT office on Boracay (036 288 3689) to check information on accommodations.