2010 visitors warned on shelter fraud

THE Southern African Fraud Prevention Service has warned overseas visitors to the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup spectacle to ensure that they deal with reputable organisations when booking accommodation.

This after complaints that unscrupulous people were using open websites to solicit money from unsuspecting tourists.

"We are receiving an increasing number of complaints from individuals overseas who have booked accommodation on open websites in South Africa for the Fifa 2010 World Cup, only to find that after the deposit has been paid, the 'lessor' disappears from view, together with the deposit," the body's executive director, Pat Cunningham, said.

He said though the accommodation advance fee fraud was fairly common, there has been a marked increase in complaints.

"We have one particular individual who has used more than six names and e-mail addresses to solicit advance fee deposits and the same photograph of a property in Camps Bay in Cape Town," Cunningham said.

He said there were several accredited organisations in the hospitality industry in South Africa who could offer accommodation.

WCSBig5 is one such company with national distributors based in all the hosting cities.

Eddie Van Reenen, spokesperson for the agency, said they have set the following rules to protect the guest and the person hosting the fan.

l Distributors make a presentation to the prospective homeowners.

lThe homeowner is then required to furnish photos of the property and complete an application form. These are submitted by the distributor to the company's head office.

lThe company then enters into a legal contract with the homeowner and the owner is expected to pay a refundable deposit of R500 into a separate company account.

lProspective overseas guests are able to browse the website and decide on a property according to their specific needs.

lThe guest then makes an online payment using a credit card.

lInspectors from an accredited international auditing firm will then inspect the property.

lWhen the home has been approved, the homeowner pays a refundable R500.

lThe remuneration for the homeowner is calculated at R750 a guest per night which includes two meals - breakfast and supper.

lHalf of the amount is paid 14 days before the arrival of the guests and the remainder within 14 days after completion of the World Cup.