Travel agent scam leaves Aussies thousands of dollars out of pocket

Stressed woman in airport.

A travel agency that continued to trade after being placed in liquidation has left dozens of Aussie travellers thousands of dollars out of pocket, with some left stranded at the airport.

In interviews with Nine’s A Current Affair (ACA), two couples told similar stories of having booked airfares only to later find they had been cancelled.

Carolyn and Rodney Baldwin told ACA they arrived at the airport only to be told their tickets to Bali had been cancelled. The couple tried to call Habib Jabir, their travel agent and the owner of Swan Travel but were unable to reach him.

The two were forced to purchase new tickets for $2,600.

“First I was embarrassed, but it quickly turned to anger when I realised he [the travel agent] had been stringing us along,” Rodney told ACA.

Another couple who had booked flights with Swan Travel were not so lucky. Ursula and Ahmed had booked flights to Lebanon to see Ahmed’s sick father along with tickets to Bali for their own wedding. The couple became suspicious when Jabir demanded they pay close to $8,000 in cash for the tickets but handed over the money anyway, fearing they would miss out on the flights.

“He kept contacting my partner over and over again by phone and then he said, ‘look, I’ll just come over and pick up the money’,” Ursula told ACA.

Ursula called Emirates directly and discovered their tickets had been cancelled, but by the time they went looking for Jabir, he had already disappeared, emptying his office, selling his apartment and deleting his social media.

The couple were forced to use the money they’d saved for their honeymoon to attend their own wedding.

According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) an application to wind up Swan Travel was launched in February last year, which ACA reported was due to its inability to pay a debt to Helloworld Travel, leading the company to be placed into liquidation two months later.

Despite this, it’s being reported Jabir continued to trade until mid-October.

“He’s a dishonourable person,” Carolyn told ACA.

“He’s just immoral.”

Jayson Westbury from the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) also commented on Jabir’s illegal dealings.

“If this person is taking the money off these people on the basis that they’re going on a holiday and then doesn’t provide them with that holiday, that is fraud,” Westbury said.

Fair Trading NSW said consumers who are dissatisfied in their dealings with Swan Travel prior to 17 April, when the company was placed into liquidation, should contact the liquidators to request further assistance. Those who paid with credit or debit cards are also advised to contact their credit provider to apply for a credit card chargeback.

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

    Latest comments
    1. Ah yes!! Wasn’t life so much better under the ‘old’ licensing system.
      Qualifications and experience … and the TCF to protect consumers from ‘shonky’ operators.
      Have we really moved forward? I think not. I cringe whenever I read that consumers being taken for their hard earned, it smears the whole not just the one.
      For mine, it was an opportunity missed to continue with a system that actually worked and protected the consumer to move to a system of quasi-self regulation.

fraud scam swan travel travel agent

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