Connect with us

Business

Duped and dumped: Pain of tourists in hands of fake agents

Published

on

Con artists posing as tour agents have swindled hundreds of tourists from various parts of the world, threating Kenya’s image as a tourist destination.

The con men use fake online campaigns, complete with sweet reviews and budget tourism packages to lure foreigners who make advance payments before they are abandoned in Kenya once they arrive and pay the rest of the cash.

The Sunday Nation has also learnt that the cartel, which runs deep in the industry, has perfected the art of evading law enforcement officers by changing names, staff and tourist vans before resurfacing during high seasons to mint millions from helpless tourists visiting the country.

One of the latest victims of such a scam is Mr Chen Dong Yuan, a 51-year-old Chinese engineer from Changsha, who could not have been more excited to take advantage of the direct flights launched by the China Southern Airlines in June to visit Kenya.

Kenya had lauded the airline’s bi-weekly flights from Changsha and back to Nairobi with its 330-200 Airbus planes, added to the non-stop flights to Guangzhou, as one of the biggest boosts to its tourism sector with prolific tourists from China, ranked by United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) as the world’s top spender on tourism in 2017.

Mr Chen had no idea what awaited him and his five friends in Nairobi after planning and paying 50 per cent deposit to Kenya Walking Survivors Safaris Limited for the eight nights in different tourism spots around the country. That was in early July.

Their plane touched down on the morning of July 31 and what was their lifetime dream to take a nine-day tour of Kenya began with a driver from the company promptly picking them from the airport.

“We went to their officers where I paid $2,820 (about Sh295,000), which he insisted should be in cash. We then set off for Amboseli for two nights as per the itinerary. We had the vehicle but the driver changed outside Nairobi. On our way back, the driver told us the company that handed us to him had suddenly closed and our trip could not continue unless we made fresh arrangements,” Chen told the Sunday Nation, beginning his tragic tale of tourists in the hands of con men. In a foreign country and in the middle of a tour, a sudden stop was unimaginable. Their online guide (Mr Otieno Lysaniash) who also received the money when they arrived, had switched off his phone and true to the driver’s words, the office located at Vision Plaza was closed.

Mr Chen chose to complete the trip when the driver suggested that if they paid more, he would take them to the Maasai Mara, Naivasha and Nakuru as per the previous plan. They agreed and paid, doubling their tour budget and turning an otherwise happy trip into a struggle to beat the cons and survive any other attempt to fleece them. The driver, Stanslaus Ongeri, told the Sunday Nationthat he was only hired as a freelancer by the firm and did not know the whereabouts of its owner, Mr Otieno, who he also claims made him to lose Sh25,000 in unpaid expenses.

The con victims had only Mr Ongeri after they were abandoned. Given the limited time they had and the shock that came with the first attempt to scuttle their trip, they had little choice but to rely on him even to report the matter to the police, despite the mistrust they developed towards him for having been part of the company that swindled them.

In Maasai Mara, they met another group of tourists who immediately identified the driver and attempted to beat him up.

They had been swindled by the same company and it took Mr Chen’s group to protect their driver from the angry tourists, an experience Mr Ongeri admitted but again claimed to have been an innocent freelance driver. It was getting worse and they could not trust him again.

“We hardly slept and every time we had to leave the car, we took the car keys so that he doesn’t abandon us. It is very sad that so many other tourists could be going through such an experience. The Kenyan government must save this situation because it will dampen the desire among those coming to visit the country. We are going back to China very bitter,” Mr Chen, whose case was booked at the Industrial Area Police Station under OB65/2/8/2019, said.

True to his words, many people have suffered under the travel agency, which seems to have mastered the art of swindling foreigners, closing shop and re-emerging only during high season.

The plot involves creating attractive packages and engaging foreigners online in a manner  suggesting good customer service. Once they are in the hook, the tourists, who in many cases have fixed schedules and have no other contact people in the country, are abandoned sometimes at the border crossings between either Kenya and Uganda or deep in the game lodges to find their way back and travel to their home countries.

The con men also change the key contact people once the tourists arrive, including a different driver to cut links before leaving them stranded.

Travel sites have already blacklisted the firm with its reviews, which are said to be doctored to mislead tourists.

“TripAdvisor has grounds to investigate that individuals or entities associated with this property may have attempted to interfere with traveller reviews and/or the Popularity Index for this property. Please take this into consideration when researching your travel plans,” the travel site flagged on its website this week.

The Sunday Nation could not reach Mr Otieno as his Mombasa Road office remained closed as adjacent shops either feigned ignorance or were too scared to talk about the firm.

Online, tens of tourists from around the world complained of bitter experiences after their trips were cancelled just before their departure dates while dealing with Kenya Walking Survivors Safaris Limited.

Some of those affected from Canada, Argentina, Taiwan, India, US, Brazil and the United Kingdom have reported the cases to the police with little action taken.

“Our honeymoon trip is in three days and we just received an e-mail that the company has technical problems and therefore cannot give the required services. Mr Otieno just wrote that we will receive the funds between 45-90 working days. I’m really panicking,” a couple from the US wrote on Friday.

Kenya received some 2.1 million tourists in 2018, with the US remaining the top source. China, which was ranked sixth, sent 81,709 representing a 4.03 per cent growth from the previous year.

Attempts to reach Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala on the happenings that are now a big threat to tourism in Kenya were futile as it emerged he had accompanied President Uhuru Kenyatta on a tour of  Jamaica.

BY nation.co.ke

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business

Kenyan Who Quit Aviation for Mortuary Business Now Minting Money in US

Published

on

Featuring on Saturday, December 7 in an episode of The Chamwada Report, Ng’ang’a revealed that he first studied aviation before losing interest in flying.

“I actually came to do flying, I didn’t follow it up. It wasn’t my passion,” Ng’ang’a an intimated.

“I ended up going to school, took some medical classes. Someone came to school on a career day talk to us about various career lines, he talked about forensic science and I ended up venturing into mortuary sciences. That’s how I ended up in the funeral business,” he revealed.

John Richard Ng’ang’a walks Alex Chamwada and crew through the operations of Bedford Memorial Funeral Home. Photo: Alex Chamwada

Ng’ang’a served in the corporate world for 19 years before he branched out to establish his own funeral home in December 2015, as indicated in company website www.bedfordmemorialfuneralhome.com

He has been in the industry for five years and handles about 300 cases annually.

While engaging Chamwada on how he started his business, the entrepreneur revealed that he did it solely using his savings and based his motivation on a quote by American billionaire Mark Cuban.

“Like Mark Cuban says, its only a moron that starts a business with a loan, if it doesn’t work you still have to pay the loan. So I opened my business without a loan, but with only the money I had saved,” Ng’ang’a stated.

Despite the success of his business, Ng’ang’a maintains a relationship with Kenya, intimating to Chamwada that he has even started an enterprise in Kenya despite the challenges facing startups in the country.

“I have different projects at home that I’m involved in. I just started a magazine in Kenya that is going to explore different areas and kinds of tourism and we are getting in touch with counties to support us, even if Kenya is hard to penetrate,” Ng’ang’a stated.

“Living in the US, you will understand. You can walk in and have services handled in 10 minutes and walk away, in Kenya, you can chase somebody for days. It becomes discouraging,” he added.

A Bedford Memorial Funeral Home hearse. Photo: Alex Chamwada

When quizzed on how he has managed to stay successful, Ng’ang’a explained that one had to have compassion and a good understanding of people.

“I’ve had people come here and start going off on me. It is an inborn thing. You have to be compassionate even to deal with people and you have to understand that. Otherwise, you will be upset every day,” Ng’ang’a stated.

According to the company website, Ng’ang’a founded the funeral home in order to facilitate the needs of the middle class, single families, low income and senior citizens on a budget.

By providing flexibility, discount prices and providing unique customised services, Ng’ang’a has found success in the business.

Adding to the many services offered, the funeral home has an inbuilt chapel with a capacity of up to 70 people for bereaved families to conduct services and prayer.

“We have a chapel if the bereaved families don’t have a church they can do their services here. If they have a church we’ll head to the church and they can have their service there,” Ng’ang’a shared.

A casket prepared for transportation to Kakamega by Bedford Memorial Funeral Home. Photo: Alex Chamwada

“I want to tell Kenyans who are getting green-cards not to sell everything back home. Green cards don’t give you the right to move away from home,” Ng’ang’a advised.

“You can have a green card, come work for six months, go home for six months. You can live in both worlds and you will be a happy person. But you have to be reliable, dedicated, committed,” he concluded.

by `Kenyans.co.ke

Continue Reading

Business

Kenya Railways adds more SGR train coaches to meet high demand

Published

on

Kenya Railways has announced that it will add five more coaches to the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) passenger train that shuttles between Nairobi and Mombasa to cater for the rise in passenger numbers in the festive season.

The extra coaches that will cater to both economy and first-class passengers will be added starting December 22, 2019 to January 3, 2020.

The train service, dubbed Madaraka Express, is currently fully booked for the Christmas season as Kenyans seek convenience, fast and affordable travel.

“With the exception of Dec. 28, the morning train from Mombasa and the afternoon train from Nairobi will feature an additional first-class and four economy class coaches from Dec. 22, to Jan. 3, 2020,” said Kenya Railways in a notice.

Kenya Railways@KenyaRailways_

Public notice:

With the exception of Dec. 28, 2019, the morning train from MSA & the afternoon train from NRB will feature an additional first class & 4 economy class coaches from Dec. 22, 2019 to Jan. 3, 2020. We appreciate your continued support.

See Kenya Railways’s other Tweets

Kenya Railways has normally increased the train coaches during the holiday season as demand surges and has steadily increased coaches on the Nairobi-Mombasa route since the SGR passenger train was launched in June 2017.

The rising demand for the SGR passenger train service has however dealt a huge blow to commuter bus operators.

By NN

Continue Reading

Business

VIDEO: Tuskys partners with optiven for 60 days of christmas promotion

Published

on

Optiven Limited, Kenya’s leading real estate company is the choice partner for Kenya’s leading Supermarket Tuskys as it rolls out it’s newest campaign “60 days of Christmas with Tuskys”.

The campaign launched in Eldoret will see over 20 shoppers walk away with title deeds for their properties located in the cosmopolitan county of Machakos.

Addressing the media in Nairobi, Dan Githua, CEO Tuskys Supermarkets said, ‘2019 Christmas for our customers will definitely be different as we are keen to innovate and provide them with special gifts top of which is a piece of land.

The campaign which runs for 60 days to January 5th2020, will be open to shoppers at any of the 60 Tuskys Supermarket branches countrywide.

Daniel Koech, the General Manager for Business Development and Customer Experience, says ‘all customers spending 3000 shillings will have an opportunity to win the piece of land and many other exciting prizes in a transparent exercise that has been automated.  We have already had two winners including one from Kisumu in our first awarding ceremony that was held on 30thNovember 2019 at T-Mall Tuskys in Nairobi.

He added that customers are guaranteed to take home quality and all the different stores under the grand Tuskys Supermarkets network are ready to provide value and variety at the most affordable prices.

The event was graced by Mr. George Wachiuri, CEO at Optiven Group who hailed the move by Tuskys Supermarkets to partner with the leading Real Estate company in Kenya.

Wachiuri noted that, ‘the values espoused by Tuskys Supermarkets merge well with those of Optiven Group and it is a humbling experience for us to be able to transform the lives of the 20 winners that will take home title deeds during the 60 Days of Christmas with Tuskys’.

He assured the public that the promotion is real and the property is available even for the public to view but more importantly to ensure that they make their purchases from Tuskys.

Wachiuri added that the expertise by Optiven Limited in the Real Estate sector spans over 20 years with over 70 projects having already been sold out and titles issued out to the investors.  ‘We guarantee that the plots are as real as can be and can confirm that we have already put power, water, security, electricity and greening spaces on site.

The campaign will run until the 5thof January 2019 and the process according to Koech, has been listed under the BCLB – Betting Control and Licensing Board.

All winners will be notified following a public announcement on television with the names being announced by the Tuskys team in the different branches.

Winners will also have a variety of prizes including goats, make overs, shopping vouchers, electronics and an opportunity to acquire merchandise through a special hire purchase that is interest free in the Lipia Pole Pole option.

 

Continue Reading


Are you looking for a Church to fellowship in Atlanta Metro Area?

poapay3

Like us on Facebook, stay informed

NEWS TRENDING RIGHT NOW

2019 Calendar

August 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jul   Sep »
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  
satellite-communication1.jpg

Trending

error: Content is protected !!