Some further questions about the Koptalk Athens scam.

by Koptalk Outsider

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Duncan Oldham is very clear that payment for the seats on the flights to Athens will not be handled by Koptalk.

That being the case – he does not need the credit or debit card details of travellers, and he doesn’t ask for them – does he?

Well I’m not so sure about that. We are talking about a lifelong con artist who has been investigated by the police and Trading Standards for his internet scams and who has been caught out in barefaced lying. In the last ten years he has learned how to reel people into crooked schemes by using ambiguous weasel words. For reference to his criminal frauds on the net go HERE.

With his history his announcements deserve extra caution. So lets look at this one again.

“The operator has asked us to take all bookings and fax them through to them to save the workload at their end”.

There’s a weasel word right there. “Has to take all bookings”. Oldham, by his own admission, is not responsible for any bookings. He is simply referrring the names of those applying for a seat. The operator is required by law to book each and every one no matter if it comes as a referral from Koptalk or elsewhere.

“They will then take payment and confirm everything with you. KopTalk is not processing any payments in relation to your bookings.”

Well that’s clear enough. Or is it? The operator will contact you and ask for credit or debit card details and take it from there?

Or does Oldham’s vagueness on this point leave room for a role for him in contacting you and asking for that information? Let’s read on until this point becomes clearer.

“We have to complete a form they have provided us for every person booking to obtain your statement that you are a Red etc. All subsequent questions and dealings will then be between you and the operator.”

Clear enough again. But I have to ask why the operator needs Koptalk to take those details which the operator is going to have to obtain independently from the traveller at the time of payment. If this is just a scheme to register Oldhams’ interest and secure his commission why doesn’t he say so?

“We’ve simply secured a limited amount of seats for you.”

How many is that – 1, 10, 100? What do you mean by “secured”? Have you guaranteed the payment of those seats if you don’t get enough people signing up through you? How long will you keep people on hold waiting to hear back from the operator for confirmation of their booking when they could be looking elsewhere?

“Payment will be made by debit or credit card. There is a 2% charge when paying by credit card. It may be possible to pay by cheque but we think this will delay things and you may miss out.”

I’m very suspicious of the reference to cheques. Apparently it may be an option from the operator, but Oldham tries to scare you into not using it. Obviously he wants you to use a debit or credit card. Why?

(Postcript:  Since I posted this Insider Insider has posted in the Comments below how he found an operator selling flights at the same price quoted by Oldham but the operator prefers cheques).

Then he asks you to email him the following information:

“* Lead name on booking (same name must be on passport) e.g. Rafael Benitez

* Address

* Post Code

* Contact telephone number

* Number of flight tickets required including your own

* Who you support (legal requirement by Greek authorities)

* Which airport you want to depart i.e. Gatwick or Liverpool

Do NOT include your payment details at this stage.”

A lot of personal stuff there for Oldham’s files, all of which you will need to submit directly to the operator later. So why does Oldham have to have them ? If it is so he can claim his commission why doesn’t he say so?

And his not needing credit card details is clear again – or is it? Is “at this stage” another of his weasel words?

“Once we have the information above we will complete your booking form and then contact you regards payment.”

Oh oh! Now he’s talking about contacting you regarding payment. But he gave the impression earlier that it would be the operator doing that.

“KopTalk is not processing the payment, we are faxing this through to the operator who will process and confirm your booking.”

More weasel words. Does this mean that he will fax through to the operator the simple fact that you prefer to pay by card or cheque or that he will be faxing all your credit and debit card details. It looks like the latter. But to confuse you further on this point he reiterates that he is not “processing ” payment.

So he is taking your credit and debit card details and faxing them to be processed by the operator?

Now, this is worrying. Why would he need the credit and debit card details? Couldn’t the travel company do this part? Is it even legal for Oldham or the Koptalk website to collect such details anyway?

Already there are questions about who is actually doing the booking, who is being paid – Koptalk or the operator – and who is responsible for performance of the contract.

“The contract is between you and them…”

Who is “them” – why not tell us?

“..so if anything goes t*ts up, we will not accept any liability etc. The same applies to us as we will be booking seats ourselves on the same flights… maybe even one for Katie!”

Which seems a bit superfluous since he said he bought his tickets for 110 weeks ago.

“The operator will instruct KopTalk when all availability has gone. At this stage we will then remove this announcement. Your booking is not guaranteed until the operator contacts you direct.”

So Koptalk is not doing the booking, after all?

“After submitting payment details…”

To whom – to Oldham or the operator and if the latter who is the operator?

“..we’ll see you have all the necessary details needed to check your booking or make changes with the operator..”

But you said earlier that all contact and all such confirmation will be direct between the operator and the traveller.

“They have also told us that they will change names on tickets for free should someone have to drop out of your party.”

Is this operator licensed – is it in good standing with the regulatory authorities and the travel industry? Is it legal to change the name on tickets? Sounds to me like this company is as desperate as Oldham to get payment and asks question afterwards.

“At this time we are trying to find out how quickly they will confirm your booking as you can’t be left around waiting and not knowing. We will update this announcement as soon as we hear back.”

You mean you made this announcement without knowing that crucial detail? You claimed you had “secured” a number of seats,. Why can’t confirmation be almost instant?

If you want credit and debit card details and orders so you can then shop around for a few days or week to find seats which pay you a commission why don’t you say so?

“All questions should be submitted via a support ticket at http://www.koptalk.info – if we can’t answer, we’ll put you in touch with the operator.”

Why not put us in touch with the operator now? That way we can avoid the delays and weasel words that is typical of support tickets on Koptalk. And what is the point of talking to you anyway since you have said in advance you will not accept any responsibilities for the information?

“If you want to go, book now. Don’t faff around as the operator has told us they have limited tickets left.”

Well, you have secured a number of seats already, haven’t you, that’s what you just said. So why not put that number up and update when people book. Then we’d know how fast we need to act.

“Once they’re gone there won’t be any planes left to fly people over. Most airlines are chartering in planes from overseas to cope with demand. We will organise meet ups on flights, in Athens and wherever. Get involved!”

So this will be the last operator to have tickets left? When this operator is sold out, everyone else will be as well?

If all Oldham is saying is please put money in my pocker rather than in the pocket of some genuine, licensed tour operator – why doesn’t he say so?

See you there!”

No, you won’t!

When Oldham was investigated for selling Sky cards that he did not deliver he simply changed his name and skipped from Scarsborough to Wallsend and changed his con from Sky to LFC.

But his appetite for money has grown since then. He has declared he is preparing a bolt-hole abroad. Anyone who hands over personal details and credit and debit card information to him is taking a huge risk.

Don’t rely on the credit card company to reimburse you if he defrauds you now or in a few months when you are not looking. They may consider that you did not keep your side of the bargain not to expose you card to unusual risk. Giving it to a known con artist for a deal that is full of weasel words is unusual risk.

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13 Responses to “Some further questions about the Koptalk Athens scam.”

  1. barry wom Says:

    Cracking post that. It’s a shame it somehow can’t be brought to the attention of the cultees who are going to be stupid enough to to start throwing all their details at Oldham.

    So anyone who has access, are people booking this with him?

  2. RedinSweden Says:

    Very good disection Rupert.

  3. dataimaginary Says:

    This really stinks, there is no-way he legitimately needs that information UNLESS he’s getting a commission or he has more sinister motives.

    You have to ask what his motivation for doing all this is – surely the simplest thing to do is to pass over direct contact details for the operator and allow people the opportunity to deal direct. Like I said, stinks.

  4. Aaandy Says:

    At the very least he could be planning to sell details as a mailing list? What are the Data Protection Act issues around this?

  5. lfc_michael Says:

    Excellent post, Koptalk Outsider.

    When I saw the actual sales spiel, I wondered myself about some of it. He has been deliberately vague in parts, particularly regarding whether or not he collects your payment details; it certainly could be inferred from what he says.

    I’d never give my card details to an unknown third party. Any airline that accepts such a practice probably cannot be trusted to act in a professional manner, anyway.

  6. lfc_michael Says:

    Aaandy, the Data Protection Act would forbid him from retaining the information himself after he’d faxed it. It can only be held when relevant to a customer and must be destroyed after, as far as I understand it.

  7. Toby Says:

    I really can’t believe that there are people out there gullible enough to hand over personal and credit card details to someone like Oldham without knowing who it is you are actually going to be paying over £500 to.

  8. Tubby Says:

    @toby

    As far as I’m concerned, anyone stupid enough to either believe this fat cunt, or entrust their personal or financial affairs with him, deserve what they get and have no sympathy from me.

    Dunk still exists because the remaining members are as thick as he is.

  9. RedinSweden Says:

    The thing is, if he was getting commission from the travel company, he would get it if the people ordering just said that they were part of the Kontalk booking, there is no reason whatsoever for him to handle the information and asking people to supply details before they even know who they are dealing with is ridiculous.

  10. Insider Insider Says:

    Here’s something interesting.

    I did a quick google for “liverpool athens £549” and found this site:

    http://globalevents.blogspot.com/2007/05/champions-league-final.html

    Their offers seemed to match Fat Dunk’s, although the Stanstead flight was exactly £100 more. Perhaps one of them has made a mistake.

    So I gave them a call. Although they have a London number, I was a little suspicious at first to hear a North-East accent on the answering machine.

    A bit more searching showed they are actually based in Guildford, so the accent was just a coincidence.

    I called back a little later, and this time they answered.

    I posed as a fan wanting flights, and he confirmed the prices that I’d found earlier.

    The interesting point is that when I asked how I should pay, he said he’d prefer cheque!

    He doesn’t like credit cards because of the charges, they tend to bump things up. He’d accept credit cards, but his preferred option was to send me an invoice, and for me to pay by cheque!

    Now either this guy IS the operator, or he’s using the same operator as Dunk.

    So why does he say cheques are better when our overweight con-happy friend claims cheques would mean you might miss out?

    PLEASE WARN ANYONE YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY WARNED ABOUT DUNK.

    (I don’t know much more about the guy who I spoke to on the phone. I’d suggest that he’s a little more honest than Dunk if he’s prepared to accept your booking on good faith that you’ll send a cheque by return. But I obviously can’t condone using anyone in particular – do your own checks please).

    EDIT: Just realised Dunk’s (probably fake) flights were from Gatwick and Liverpool, not Stanstead and Liverpool – but the Liverpool flights are more expensive through Duncan.

  11. Mad Max Says:

    Recently when going to Japan I found a ‘travel agent’ who merely directed me to a well reknowned tour operator. In order to get his commisson he merely had to pass on to the operator my name and contact details. The only details he requested was my name and contact info.
    Oldham has no need for anything other than a name and a work phone number. Me thinks another scam is in the wind…

  12. JackBauer Says:

    Haven’t really looked into this in detail but I reckon that his disclaimer of liability if things go “tits up” is ineffective under consumer protection legislation anyway, since he’s clearly operating in the course of business here.

  13. Toby Says:

    Thinking about this subject further I’m feeling slightly more optimistic.

    In the past Watchdog and other areas of the media haven’t bothered with Oldham’s scams as they weren’t ‘juicy’ enough for them.

    This is going to be topical and this is on a larger scale. Hopefully they will latch onto it and drag him out of his Wallsend shed once and for all.


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