Online Reviews by Organized Scammers – This Must be Stopped
For the past several years I have been monitoring, mapping and sometimes engaged in countering some very shady people from destroying a humanitarian organization that operates across 11,000 square kilometers to generate alternative livelihoods for nomadic families and rural inhabitants living on the edge of poverty; according to Western and European standards.
This post is not aimed at any one given individual, however, I would like to pull the public’s attention to a real situation that truly highlights the negative impacts that we all must endure… These unverified and uncontrolled online public defamations by unethical networkers, scammers and internet trolls are as bad as intentionally poisoning children during Halloween.
Real Case Study of the Month
A UK girl arrives at GER to GER office post my international travel for the humanitarian organization, I was only a few minutes late – jet lag and all, nothing unusual seeing we are all operating on winter schedule – traffic jams, etc. Nonetheless, what was about to transpire in my office left me shocked and truly heart-broken…
I noticed this young girl wondering our lounge area… she was unusually fidgety – I ventured to ask “are you ok?”… Beyond getting a quick earful of reprimands for being a few minutes late – I had quickly replied kindly explaining that we just returned and there is a bunch of other stuff happening; not as an excuse, just as introduction of reality to which she eventually accepted and we proceeded with our conversation.
Without any notice, this poor young lady broke into tears right in-front of me… She stated “I have read some of the online remarks of some travelers and I am very nervous”… I could only take a deep sigh and tried to calm her nerves. After explaining that out of these handful of online “complaints” most of them are not GER to GER clients and/or scammers seeking revenge on our organization for not allowing their defraud to take place (just a handful of people trying to get a free trips, etc., and when it doesn’t work… well onto TripAdvisor/Lonely Planet Thorn Tree they go).
After nearly a couple of hours, this young lady’s nerves became calmed and she agreed to give the GER to GER humanitarian organization a try…
Regardless of all the online defamation by scammers, etc., just like 1000s of travelers who had experienced GER to GER before her over a decade – she had the same response after her trip… My colleague had asked “How was your Humanitarian Trip to Terelj National Park’s nomadic families?”
This single, young, English woman who just traveled in winter alone with GER to GER’s nomadic families in -20 to -30 degree weather and her response was…
“It was Great!”
Yes, these online scammers are out of control – both Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree and TripAdvisor need to rectify their methodology of reporting… I strongly encourage them to:
1. Require document uploads – client’s passport copy, contracts, tangible proof of complaint i.e. documents, etc., in order to protect from Fraud and Defraud.
2. Require “agreement” verifications – make a check box that states this person who is reporting is legally responsible for the content they are about to release on the internet, etc., in order to protect from Public Defamation and Identity Thievery.
3. Both forums should also recognized the nuances of different organizations/travel methods – our humanitarian travel routes are 100% community based and yes – they are not your typical “theme park” activities (not Packaged Trips); its free-ranging method to experience foreign cultures genuinely not Zoo style (Seaworld and their captive animals)…
4. Budget Humanitarian Trips are only being offered to be of assistance in generating alternative incomes for rural people – it is not a service that we mandatorily must provide.
5. In fact, it would be easier for all of us at GER to GER to just only provide our very successful Packaged Trips (which we do) – to keep these scammers from conning their way into a free trip by demanding Packaged Trip Services along Budget Humanitarian Routes that are community managed and owned; to which once they fail (defraud by scammers, etc.) – we humanitarians and locals get unethically defamed online.
With a few simple improvements to these online forums reporting frameworks it could increase qualitative reporting and greater industry support; as countless business around the world would become more appreciative of these Online Platforms as they encourage “Honest” reporting. These slight improvements means a lot – accountability for all parties… and potentially save Humanitarian Organizations like ourselves from having to close its doors to the general public.
All of us at GER to GER have fought hard and ethically to counter these online scammers… We truly hope we can keep our Humanitarian Office’s doors open for another year – Respect!