Suspicious website troubles Yukon B&B owners

Yukon bed-and-breakfast owners are worried about a suspicious website that appears to promote their businesses — and offers to collect credit card information on their behalf — without their permission.

Yukon bed-and-breakfast owners are worried about a suspicious website that appears to promote their businesses — and offers to collect credit card information on their behalf — without their permission.

The site, yukonvacation.com, purports to help visitors book flights, river trips, motorhome rentals and lodgings.

On the site, Liesel Briggs, owner of Yukon Forest Cabins outside Whitehorse, was surprised to find a picture of her log cabin and a description of her business, both lifted from her official website, under the slightly modified name of “Forest Cabins.”

But it contains no information on how to reach her.

Concerned, she began to ask other B&B owners with similar entries on the site if they had a business relationship with the owner.

None did.

“None of us have a contract with him,” she said.

About a week ago, she asked the site to remove her business. But so far it’s still there.

No known cases of fraud are connected with the site. But its offer to collect credit card information on behalf of Yukon businesses troubles Briggs and other B&B operators.

There is also a suspicious lack of information about who runs the site. It does not list its operator’s name, or physical address or phone number.

It simply invites visitors to contact them for information by e-mail.

What’s more, the website’s address is registered through a business called Privacy Post, which specializes in keeping the identities of its clients secret.

Last summer, a European visitor arrived in the Yukon expecting to have an RV waiting. It had been reserved online, on a site unrelated to yukonvacation.com.

It was a scam.

“It would be really horrible to have someone show up at the door without a real reservation — that would be bad. But the bigger picture you need to think about is, what happens to promotion in the

Yukon if this happens a lot?” asked Briggs.

“Even just one occurrence can have a phenomenal ripple effect. I mean, you tell everybody.”

In late January, Briggs complained about the website to Tourism Yukon. So far, she’s disappointed with how little they’ve done.

There’s not much officials can do beyond informing businesses listed on the site, which they’ve already done, said Tourism Yukon’s Robert Clark.

There’s no proof the site’s owner has done anything wrong, he said.

“We have nothing on this particular site.”

Most people are now web-savvy enough to be wary of a site that does not provide the operator’s name, address or phone number, he added.

“Any time you see that, you’d be concerned,” said Clark.

“In this day and age, nine times out of 10, (visitors) will establish some kind of dialogue with a business,” he said.

Briggs, meanwhile, would like to see some sort of public awareness campaign about suspicious websites.

The message to visitors is simple.

“Deal with people directly or through a reputable organization, like the B&B Association of Canada,” said Briggs.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

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