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Cambodian Visa Travel Scam

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We leave for Cambodia in September. I applied for our eVisas through the official Cambodian Government website – evisa@gov.au. The web page says it will be processed within three working days. I’ve now been waiting six weeks. Why do some take so long and is this process reliable?

DOC: Alarm bells began ringing when I read you have been waiting six weeks, so I checked the website and couldn’t log on to it.

The only official online site to apply for a tourist visa for entry to Cambodia is through the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation (evisa.gov.kh).

If you have handed over money to the website you mentioned, I suggest contacting your bank and have the transaction cancelled.

An official Cambodian eVisa is only valid for entry through the two international airports and a couple of main border points.

An entry visa is also normally available on arrival and at many of the land border crossings, though these have limited opening hours, so are best checked first.

If an application has been done through the official website, you should be able to check its progress.

You can simply log in via your reference number then check the application status, also download the certificate, change travel information and resubmit payment if necessary.

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Henry Sapiecha

Travel agent vanishes after stealing money and leaving customers stranded at Sydney Airport

A Bankstown travel agent has disappeared after being convicted for ripping off clients.

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A travel agent has vanished after he was prosecuted for ripping off elderly clients and leaving them stranded at Sydney Airport.Australia

Taha Baghdadi​ has been ordered to pay almost $30,000 in fines, costs and compensation to three victims whose holidays were ruined before they had even begun.

But many others are also believed to have been left high and dry after Baghdadi’s Bankstown-based agency, Pack N Go Travel, suddenly shut in 2014 and he vanished underground with their money.

He failed to appear before Paramatta Local Court when he was convicted last month and has not been seen since. Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe branded Baghdadi’s actions as a “clear case” of a travel agent engaging in misleading, deceptive and “unconscionable” conduct.
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Nikoleta Romanas, 81, and her sister Elly Zeikat, 75, paid $2200 each for flights between Sydney, Greece and Dubai. They received receipts and itineraries for their holiday. But when they arrived at the Emirates check-in desk in December 2014, they discovered the seats had initially been booked but the ticket was later cancelled as it had never been paid for.

They were not alone. In 2014, Samir Zoobi paid Baghdadi almost $10,000 so that he and his family could travel to Lebanon and visit his ageing parents. But when he called Malaysia Airlines he was told a booking existed in his family’s name but no payment had ever been received.

“I heard from people in the community that he had disappeared,” Mr Zoobi said. “So I tried to call him one day, two days, but no answer. When I visited his shop, there were a lot of people outside. I asked them, ‘where is he?’. But nobody knew.”

Mr Zoobi said he later met Bagdadi’s father who told him “just be patient, we will look after you”.

“That was 18 months ago,” he told Fairfax, adding: “I have a son and two daughters. My wife is a teacher. We are genuine, honest people. I trusted this man was the same. But he lied to me.”

Mr Stowe said consumers can protect themselves from “dodgy travel agents” by checking they belong to the Australian Federation of Travel Agents’ Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS).

Credit-card payments were also safer than large cash deposits because of the charge-back facilities many financial institutions offer when “something goes wrong”, he said.

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Henry Sapiecha