SCAM ALERT! Club Ultima / Crown Regency Hotel Scam

I received a call from an unknown number one busy day at work. The caller introduced himself as Lester Chua and immediately said that we won a free overnight stay at the 5-star hotel called Crown Regency Hotel. He mentioned that we can opt to stay in Crown Regency Hotel located in Cebu or in other branches of that hotel.

Sensing my disbelief about winning a raffle, Lester reminded me of the raffle entry that I filled-up during the Travel Mart Expo last year. I told him that I already threw away the raffle stub so I am no longer eligible to win. He brushed that aside and said that I can still win the free overnight stay if I can confirm my personal information. I admit that I was driven by emotions that time so I foolishly provided all the personal details that he asked for. 

I suddenly imagined me, My Beloved Wife Lei and the kids enjoying by the pool beside a 5-star hotel. I also imagined us strolling along the beach and touring to the historical places of the Queen City of the South.  Finally, I can bring the kids to Cebu and make them enjoy a 5-star hotel.

Lester said that I had to attend their 90-minutes audio-visual presentation about the Crown Regency Hotel to claim the gift certificate for the free overnight stay. He insisted that I have to bring my wife. He kept on mentioning that there will be free buffet lunch and there will be no financial obligation on claiming the gift certificate.

I believed that there’s no harm attending an audio-visual presentation so I told him that I will go to their office to claim the gift certificate.

After our conversation, Lester Chua sent the following messages:

Club Ultima / Crown Regency Hotel Scam
Club Ultima / Crown Regency Hotel Scam
Club Ultima / Crown Regency Hotel Scam
Club Ultima / Crown Regency Hotel Scam

The message reads:

INVITATION:
Mr. Ishmael Ahab & Mrs. Lei Ahab, 
CROWN REGENCY HOTEL Office: Unit 102 G/F LE METROPOLE BLDG. corner Tordesillas St. along Sen. Gil Puyat/Buendia (Inline of RCBC Plaza Gil Puyat, opposite PAG-IBIG FUND/BIR.in between Ministop & PhilTrust Bank) 
SCHEDULE: see you on SATURDAY, Sept. 10, 2016 at around 1:30pm to 3:30pm will wait. 
REQUIREMENTS: 
-Kindly bring 1 valid ID with your SPOUSE for proper identification and should watch the 90mins. video clippings & graphic display for you to  choose your best choice for your family vacation preferences & also for us to provide you all the important details raegarding your Gift Certificate. 
-NO Financial obligation upon claiming. 
Just look for me Mr. Lester Chua the Reservation Officer or Jenny Quintero our receptionist. 
In behalf of the management
CONGRATULATIONS!
GOD BLESS & SEE YOU!
I received that text message from mobile phone no. 09228825659.



Their group is quite persistent because they sent a lot of text messages. Another message that I received was from Pia Esguerra (mobile phone no. 09228825709) and it says:

A blessed day! Mr. Ishmael & Mrs. Lei Ahab This is Ms. Pia Esguerra Reservations Manager of Club Ultima/Crown Regency Hotel i would like to remind for the claiming of your gift certificate and that would set Tommorow , Saturday Sept.10 at around 1:30pm tn 3:00pm here at Le Metropole bldg. Makati corner TORDESILLAS along BUENDIA, inline of RCBC PLAZA. Please advise for the final confirmation if your coming for me to reserve a seat for the FREE REFRESHMENT Godbless you. See you!
This is the last message I received from someone with mobile phone no. 09228825731:

I just want to remind you for the claiming of your gft certificte today around 1:30pm at Club Ultima/Crown Regency Makati and kindly txt us your confrmation bcoz we are going to prepare a free snack for all selectd recipient and stay for the presentation that last for 90mins. kindly txt us if you are coming bcoz if your name is not on the guest list you can not enter the bldg. Congratulations!

My gut tells me that there is something wrong with the offer. I am a loser when it comes to raffle and this sudden win without the need for a raffle stub signaled some irregularities.

A Google search brought me to Julienne’s blog post about Club Ultima / Crown Regency Hotel, which was posted 5 years ago. The information I read there confirmed my suspicions. The offer made by Lester Chua is a sham.

Julienne also received a phone call who said that she won a free stay in Crown Regency Hotel. She was not tricked by the Club Ultima agent. However, the commenters to that blog post have different stories. Some commenters were tricked and gave large sums of money for a membership at Club Ultima. Others said that they couldn’t use the gift certificate because the hotel is always “fully-booked”.

Those who attended the 90-minute presentation said that the agents will try to convince you to join Club Ultima. They felt the pressure and some were hypnotized by the sales talk. Many gave in. In the end, they paid cash for a bad deal.

What actually  prompted me to be suspicious about the offer is that the address indicated in Lester Chua's text message is different from the address of Crown Regency Hotel in Makati. Isn’t it logical that a promotional event of a hotel be done inside the hotel?

The warning signs are very clear so I cancelled my attendance to their event. 

Looking back now, I believe that I might fall for their marketing ploy. I might give in especially if our babies are crying after the exhausting 90-minute presentation. 

My little Google search saved us from trouble. I am grateful to Julienne and other people who shared their experiences with the Club Ultima / Crown Regency Hotel Scam.

Lessons Learned

I learned a lot of things after my close call with Club Ultima / Crown Regency Scam. I am glad that I didn't learned these lessons the hard way:

1. Never give your personal information to the strangers and that includes the participants of travel mart or any travel expo. Their usual gimmick is that they will ask you to sign their gust book or fill-up a raffle coupon. This is just a way for them collect data that will be used for scams or, worse, for hacking your bank accounts, email, and social media accounts.

2. Be suspicious of offers that is too good to be true because there is no such thing as free hotel stays. There is always a catch.

3. Check with DTI if the raffle that you joined is legitimate. Real raffle or contest are registered with DTI.

4. Do an Internet search whenever you encounter offers like this. Always keep in mind that information is power.

I do hope that none of you, Dear Reader, will fall prey to these scammers. Be vigilant and never believe any too-good-to-be-true offer especially when there is money involved.
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14 comments:

  1. Thank you, Ishmael for sharing your unpleasant experience with us. It is a good reminder to us. No matter how careful we care, sometimes we can be easily influenced by their persistent. It is best not to entertain them. Have a beautiful day!

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome. I do hope that none of us will be victimized by these scammers.

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  2. Lots of scammers on the prowl now, usually they claim to be from a certain bank but they are not. The more advanced our technology, the greater the risks.

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    Replies
    1. I agree with you. The scams became more sophisticated as our technology advances. That's we have to be more vigilant while we surf and transact in the Internet.

      Delete
  3. Two weeks ago, I was also invited for the same thing. I actually had my thoughts of going but my fiance said she didn't want to. At that time, the event was supposed to be held at Robinsons Galleria. My friend got invited before and went to the "presentation", he said that they'll be selling membership cards of some sort.

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  4. I got the same call just yesterday, scheduling for a Sunday session 1-3:30pm. I felt uncomfortable because I experienced something like this in Boracay (Free Buffet in Astoria Boracay) but I had just attended an event so I considered it. Then today, I woke up to SEVEN missed calls from an agent of theirs just to confirm my attendance. I already decided to cancel my attendance afterwards.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah. Their agents are so persistent. Ako rin nakulitan sa kanila.

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  5. Just now received a call from ms sofia ...talagang nakaka duda kaya ito nagoogle ako at thank you for your post.

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  6. Thank you and your post cleared my doubts about Club Ultima. They are messaging me (Through certain Joanna 09998854374 and Ynah 09998854372) since Sept. 11. I'm suppose to attend but canceled due to bad weather. They are very persistent and even had a extended claiming night. Good thing I found-out it's a scam.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah. They are so kulit that's you will think twice about their motive.

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  7. Oh my gosh! 3 days and 2 nyts yung offer nila sakin. 18k ung worth ng gift certificate ko. Salamat naman at nabasa ko tung blog nato. Thank u thank u very much.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yeah! I just got a call from Anne reyes.. bkt daw inde ako omunta nung aug. Biresched ako for tom..

    ReplyDelete

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