A few residents are claiming to be out thousands of dollars after booking vacations through International Travel Services.
Over the past few days, several individuals took to social media to voice their frustrations with the travel agency, after an agent with the company allegedly booked their trips, only for them to find out they have never been planned or paid for.
Natasha Flett booked a family vacation to Mexico as a Christmas present which was scheduled to depart for Cancun in February.
In an interview with Mix News, Flett says she’d be interested in seeing just how many people have been affected.
“People still might not be aware, maybe they don’t have social media and they have something booked with them and have no clue that when they go in a month or whenever that they’ve been completely screwed. Just reading through some of the posts, I’ve tallied about $70,000 he’s pocketed so far.”
Flett says the travel agent in question is Ujeer Ahmed, who’s been with the business since 1997 and has worked in Fort McMurray for several years now.
She adds her experience with Ahmed has left her thousands of dollars out of pocket.
“I called WestJet and I’m not booked for any flight, hotel, nothing. My credit card was charged almost $8,000 so, it looks like he’s done this to myself and several other people who are coming forward and saying the same thing.”
Mitchell Tyler is one of those people who says he booked a trip to South Africa through Ahmed that lost him around $5800.
Fortunately for Tyler, because he is insured, he will likely see that money return before too long.
“I didn’t really think it would affect me because I’ve done business with that travel agent before so, I just left it that night and the following morning I thought I’d better check this out and I went back and got my ticket, phoned Air Canada and after about an hour, I gave them the information and they told me I wasn’t in the system.”
Tyler adds while it has caused inconvenience, his situation is far less dire than others he’s heard.
“Honestly, I really feel for the people who paid debit or cash, especially for the family that was supposed to leave on Christmas Day. That just broke my heart,” he said. “It’s really surprising, really sad. I’ve dealt with him three or four times before and everything worked out but what I’m really disappointed in is, okay, you’re going to leave and close your business, but you don’t have to do that to people. Have some honour and dignity.”
For those in situations like Flett, the next few months will be a gruelling task to recover the funds she lost.
She and others who’ve been affected say they’ve been in contact with Wood Buffalo RCMP regarding what possible legal action they can take.
“My credit card company says there is nothing they can do as of right now until we hit February 19. And by then they said if he doesn’t provide me with the service – which he obviously isn’t going to, then they will dispute it. So, until then, I have to wait almost two months to see about getting my money back.”
In an email sent to Mix News, RCMP are confirming they received several complaints regarding International Travel Services and are currently looking into them, however, no charges have been laid at this time.
They are encouraging those who feel they may have been victimized in relation to flights that were booked and paid for but no services received regarding this company, to contact Wood Buffalo RCMP to file a police report.
Several online posts have alleged that Ahmed has shut down the business and left town but nothing has been confirmed.
Mix News reached out to International Travel Services and Ahmed several times, but they couldn’t be reached for comment.