A total of 64 people have been stung by a travel agency scam so far, with hopes fading that they might find some legal remedy.

They have all filed complaints to the Malta Consumer and Competition Authority, but there may be others who have not yet come forward.

Of those impacted, 16 actually turned up at the hotels overseas only to find that the bill had not been paid. A further 11 people found out before they actually left Malta that they had been scammed.

In reply to a question posed by MP Byron Camilleri, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici told parliament that the only hope for the consumers was the Malta Arbitration Centre.

Consumers were lured by the promise of cheaper fares once they bought a card, according to Dr Camilleri. He explained to Times of Malta that there were various options but that the benefits would be spread over years, applicable for both short and long-haul holidays.

They used the hard sell technique, he said, holding group meetings to promote their ‘Rediscover the world’ scheme.”

The Mosta company, Platinum International, had apparently been operating for years without problems.

At the time the story first broke, around a month ago, Bernadette Gauci was listed as company secretary. However, she has since resigned, with effect from August 24, 2018.

The company is owned by Briton Joseph Tolan, whose address is given as Adma in Lebanon. One token share of the 500 shares is held by Jean Philippe Chetcuti of Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates.

The company has not filed any company accounts with the Company Registrar since 2011.

This is not the first time that this company fell foul of its customers’ expectation. In 2012, it was successfully sued before the Consumer Claims Tribunal for €1,500 by a couple who said that the discount promises made by the company on behalf of CityCorp Properties did not materialise.

This is not the first time that a travel agency has left consumers fuming. Between 2008 and 2013, a total of 150 clients were left stranded by the closure of Fantasy Tours.

And in August 2018, APC Travel Bureau in Rabat had its licence revoked after numerous consumers complained that they had pre-paid for bookings which were not honoured.

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