Dozens of holidaymakers have turned up at the home of a woman from London after scammers put her address on Booking.com.
The woman, who only gave her first name as Gillian, had been at home in the north of the city on July 4 when a woman and her daughter knocked on her door saying they had booked the property.
After turning them away she then had to deal with dozens of other people who knocked on her door throughout the month.
They had come from all over the world, with some travelling from as far away as Saudi Arabia and Australia, only to find the place they had booked didn’t exist.
Instead they had all been victims of a scam on Booking.com, where a fake listing duped them into thinking they had hired the woman’s home for their trip abroad.
Gillian was left shocked when dozens of holidaymakers turned up at her home in north London claiming they had booked to stay there (file image)
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme, Gillian said she had no idea what was to come when she opened her door to the first weary travellers.
She said: ‘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, with hundreds of cases.
‘It seemed to me, obviously [they had] just come from the airport.’
‘They said they’d booked my house with Booking.com.
‘I said, “No you haven’t, because it’s not on Booking.com”. I’ve never let this house.
‘She looked aghast and I said, “You’ll just have to go back to them. I’m sorry, there’s some misunderstanding”.’
Around 100 people arrived at Gillian’s home in July after falling victim to the scam on Booking.com
Gillian thought that might be the end of it, but only a few hours later she had ‘three or four people’ knocking on her door saying exactly the same thing.
She said: ‘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.’
After sending them all to a nearby coffee shop, Gillian went onto Booking.com and found her address on a listing, although the pictures claiming to be the interior were actually from a different house.
She reported the listing to the website the next day, and it was eventually removed on July 11.
But this wasn’t enough to stop other people turning up at her house – around 100 people would knock on her door before the end of the month saying they had booked it on the website.
Gillian said: ‘It was obviously a scam, and someone had used my address. I felt so sorry for those tourists knocking on my door. 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.’
Among those who were victims of the ‘unscrupulous fraudsters’ were Jo Duckenfield and her daughter Olivia, from Portsmouth.
The pair had booked to stay in the capital for a weekend a way, during which they were going to watch Lady Gaga perform at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Ms Duckenfield, who said she will never use the website again, said she had even checked with the website whether everything was ok with the booking on the morning they departed, and had been told it was fine.
Jo Duckenfield and her daughter, Olivia, were two of the tourists who turned up at Gillian’s home to stay on a weekend away from their home in Portsmouth.
Jo Duckenfield and her daughter Olivia had booked the property so they could stay in London after watching Lady Gaga (pictured) perform at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
A spokesperson for Booking.com told the BBC: ‘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 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.’