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Tourist hotel fall victim to online booking scam

[Maxwell Chogo addressing the media at Afrika Kenya village hotel in Mtwapa. Photo/Maxwell Ngala]

The Afrika Kenya Village that offers traditional mud brick hut accommodation services to discerning tourists in Mtwapa, Kilifi County has fallen victim to an online booking scam.

A man identified by hotel workers as Andrea Baraka marketed the facility online and booked 12 family members as guests and pocketed upfront accommodation fee.

But only six of the 12 family members turned up at the hotel and spent the night on the fateful day amid confusion.

Maxwell Chogo and George Masika who run the facility told the press that the cyber-criminal previously came to the hotel as a guest.

“He introduced himself as Andrea Baraka took photos and befriended all the staff,” said Chogo at the premises.

They said it come to their notice that the conman set up a copycat website mirroring the genuine website of their facility and targets travelers making hotel reservations.

Masika said the man called and informed them that 12 family members on holiday at the Coast were headed to their facility and that they should receive them.

“He said the guests would pay their own accommodation fee on arrival,” said Masika in shock.

He said the guests come at nightfall ordered for tea and slept saying they have paid their accommodation fee through online agent operated by Baraka who has since switched off his mobile phones.

The fraudster booked his duped clients using Airbnb a privately held global company with headquarters in US that operates online market place and hospitality service accessible via its websites and mobile apps.

The management of Afrika Kenya Village said they have reported the matter to Airbnb via their systems complaint mechanism and have commenced investigations.

Police in Mtwapa where the cyber security crime was reported admitted that hotel booking scams were hitherto not a major problem in the local hospitality space but promised to follow up on the incident.

Afrika Kenya Village offers intrepid travelers a new experience as guests enjoy the cool tropical breeze with panoramic view of the mangroves down the ocean as birds chirp.

The cultural village offers domestic and international visitors the rare opportunity to stay in a traditional Kenyan village set-up away from hustle and bustle.

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently signed into law the computer misuse and cyber crimes Bill, 2018.

The new law also contains stiff penalties on child pornography, computer forgery and espionage among other related crimes.