Imagine booking a hotel for your highly-awaited vacation. But instead of learning it was cancelled, you found out it doesn’t even exist! This may sound like stuff from the movies, but it is (unfortunately) something that actually happened in Japan.
According to news site FNN Prime Online, a 19-year-old man’s vacation was ruined by such a scam. He had found the promising-looking hotel on website Booking.com for his upcoming trip to Ichinomiya, a seaside town known for its surfing.
Convinced by the hotel’s story of having newly opened in the summer and falling in love with pictures of pretty interiors and a terrace that can accommodate BBQs, he booked a room and didn’t think much more of it. But on the day of the trip, he looked long and hard for the hotel—only to find an empty plot of land. There was nothing but grass there.
“I didn’t want to accept reality,” he said. And he wasn’t the only victim. Locals reported seeing tourists searching in vain for the hotel: “We’ve seen many people walking around.”
The good news is that Booking.com refunded what the 19-year-old had spent on his reservation, which was around 33,000 yen ($220). The bad news, however, is that he had still lost money on the car he rented to get to the nonexistent hotel.
The pictures used in the scam turned out to be from a real hotel’s legitimate listing. According to the owner, there are actual customers calling to confirm that it is a true hotel. Learning from the young man’s story, they don’t want to be scammed either.