Those emails offering amazing Cannes accommodation deals might look authentic and persuasive, but pause before replying. Crooked operators are still busily ripping off festival and market guests in 2012.
I am sure I am not alone in receiving countless unsolicited emails from companies offering incredible deals on accommodation in Cannes. Often brandishing the official festival and market logos, these emails feature images of apartments just minutes from the Croisette and, for latecomers who need to lock down a room fast, they are sorely tempting.
But hold on. Before you send off that email enquiring about availability, be aware that crooks are out there ripping people off year in, year out, and apparently untouched by the long (or in this case, apparently indifferent) arm of the law.
This time last year, I wrote a blog piece called “Beware Cannes Scams”, explaining that two producer friends of mine had lost €3,600 when they booked an apartment through a company called Euro-Events. Although they initially spoke to a representative of the company called “John”, Euro-Events soon became unreachable when the money was banked and it was clear no apartment was being offered. Despite entreaties to the Fraud Squad in the UK, the FBI in the US and Interpol, no law enforcement agency took responsibility for chasing down the fraudsters.
The response to the story was dramatic and surprising.
I was contacted from tens of people from around the world telling me that they had also fallen victim to Euro-Events (specifically “John”). Some had booked hotel rooms at central Cannes locations (and at premium prices) only to find they had a crummy apartment in the outskirts of the town, others had no accommodation whatsoever. None had their funds returned, and if they were given a third-rate apartment, were unable able to claw back their security deposits let alone VAT receipts. Getting hold of anybody to talk to about the service proved impossible, and the listed numbers from in continental Europe, the UK and the US were either bogus or permanent voicemails.
Stunningly, having stolen her money last year, a Euro-Events representative (one “Seth Goldby”) left a message for one of my producer friends this year asking if they could help find an apartment for her this year. One LA executive contacted me to check the company’s validity just as he was about to commit thousands of dollars in deposits for rooms at the Majestic.
The Cannes Marché is aware of these operators and warns of their fraudulent activities on its website, naming Euro-Events alongside:
- Premier Destinations
- Global Living Group
- The Ultimate Living Group
- Riviera Network
- Business Travel International
- Expo Travel Group
The Marché recommends that industry guests avoid giving any money to these outfits and welcomes reports of any fraud firstname.lastname@example.org<email@example.com> .
Meanwhile, if you have had any experiences with these crooks, please share them here. Cannes is stressful and expensive enough without being ripped off for thousands of euros before it even starts.