Strange surprise for Laurent Croisé when someone comes to ring the doorbell of his company Marine Assistance in La Rochelle to organize the charter of his catamaran Lagoon 400. Indeed, Laurent Croisé has no catamaran for charter, neither him nor his company! At that very moment, Pascal realized that he had been the subject of a scam..
How does it work?
The deception is very well done. A mobster has usurped the identity of Laurent Croisé and his company (this information can be found on Infogreffe for example) to rent a catamaran whose photos he gets from a classified ad found on the net. He registers on Click & Boat and offers his catamaran for charter.
Pascal spots the ad and is interested in the price (half the usual price...) reserves the yacht for the weekend. Via the chat on the site, he discusses with the "owner" about the availability of the boat. Finally, he accepts the rental and makes a reservation via the payment system of the site (380 euros). It is only then that the site reveals the owner's contact details (telephone number and e-mail address).
The phone is a number starting with 09 and the email is a gmail address. Pascal is not suspicious, because he also went to see the activity of Marine Assistance via his website, a company with an address in La Rochelle, where the catamaran is rented.
After an exchange of mail, the "owner" sends to Pascal a booking voucher at the Marine Assistance head office, with a RIB asking him to sign the voucher and to transfer 1000 euros of deposit by bank transfer. Alas, Pascal complies with this request and will never hear from this famous rental company again..
How to avoid the scam?
Pascal admits to having been confident with the Click & Boat site he has used before. He is therefore not suspicious, considering that he is working with a professional boat rental company (and not a private individual) as indicated on the ad. But he does not know that Click & Boat has not verified the identity of the boat rental company. When Click&Boat registers a new professional boat rental company, it asks for 3 documents: a Kbis, an ID and a bank account number. In the case of our rogue charter company, Click & Boat did not receive these documents..
The only way to avoid such a misadventure is to always refuse to pay the deposit by bank transfer. Contacted, Édouard Gorioux, founder of Click & Boat, explains the existing procedure: "In the case of a professional charter company, as in Pascal's story, the deposit is paid directly in front of the rented boat or in the charter company's shop on the day of the rental. This is the assurance that the lessor and his boat are really physically present. For private renters, the deposit is collected by Click & Boat (payment card loan) with a whole procedure for the recovery of this deposit at the end of the rental period.
Concerning the payment of 380 euros to Click & Boat, this will be refunded as every time a rental has not taken place. "
Note that in this story, Pascal is not the only one to have paid the deposit. Another person also came to Marine Assistance with a similar situation. But are there others? Click & Boat tells us that this is the first known case of embezzlement since the creation of the company?
Mistrust even with street-front sites
The offers available on the Internet attract the lust of crooks. This usurpation of the identity of a company and its president is one of them. We must therefore remain wary and not rely solely on the reliability of a site like Click & Boat, despite its legitimacy and good practices. It has a vigilance system that detects fraudulent transactions, but in our history, it has not been operational.