Italian Car Hire Noleggiare SRL Scam

Noleggiare SRL Charge Dispute Overview

In January 2017 I noticed a charge to my credit card from an Italian car hire company (Nollegiarre SRL) for a rental in Italy on the 12th January 2017. As I had not rented a car in January nor been to Italy, I asked my credit card company (Santander) to look into this on my behalf.

I had hired a car from this company through Rentalcars.com in August 2016 so whilst the company name was known to me the reasons for this charge were not.

At this stage, I did not consider this as fraudulent because there are times when charges are made by car hire companies for “Miscellaneous” expenses like parking tickets, speeding tickets or indeed lack of fuel.

**Disclaimer – At no point is the mention of Rentalcars.com supposed to intimate that they had anything whatsoever to do with what happened to me in 2017 – or that they were involved in any way**

Credit Card Charge Dispute – Stage 1

In February 2017 I contacted the Santander Bank credit card department call centre, and explained that I had no knowledge of the transaction shown on my statement for £190 for car hire from Noleggiare SRL (in January) and asked that any documentation in support of this claim be sent to me so that I might judge if this was warranted or fraudulent use of my credit card by a business.

At that time as a precaution, my credit card was cancelled and I was issued with a new credit card and card number.

Nolegiare SRL –  Supporting Evidence (Documents)

**noleggiareI finally received the supporting documents on July 20th, 2107 and it took just seconds for me to ascertain that this was a scam and quite possibly fraudulent. Far from being an innocent case of “mistaken identity” – someone had spent some time to alter several documents so as to support this charge. Happily, most of those alterations were those of an amateur fraudster and so very easy to spot.

So What Started This Scam?

It seems that a person with the same surname as me had made a booking to rent a car for 2 weeks in Olbia (Sardinia) in September 2016.

Noleggiare SRL(head office) claimed that they were seeking these funds because the travel company (AtlasChoice) through whom the rental booking had been made had gone bankrupt and so they needed to recoup the amount owed from the person who had rented the car.

On checking, I saw that AtlasChoice was in receivership so this seemed reasonable enough. Atlas aka Evershine Travel Limited logo

 

Documents in Support of this Claim

Monte Dei Paschi Di Sienna” Bank Confirmation – Document1

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena logo

Included in the supporting documents was confirmation of a successful credit card transaction, (in this case with details of my card). This document from the”Monte Dei Paschi Di Sienna” Bank also showed that this was taken by someone at the Olbia offices of Noleggiare SRL, offices I have never visited. The Olbia offices sent a false claim showing the other person’s name to the bank using my credit card details which I must assume are in the computer system database of Noleggiare SRL because I have never dealt with anyone in Olbia as I have never been there.

The Olbia offices of Nolegiarre SRL sent a false claim showing the other person’s name to the bank whilst using my credit card details, which, I must assume are in the computer database of Noleggiare SRL because I have never dealt with anyone in Olbia as the last time I was in Olbia I was just 14 and had no driving licence.

In effect, Noleggiare SRL has managed to fool the reputable and established Banca Monte Dei Paschi Di Sienna into taking money from the wrong person by simply using the credit card info on file to make a payment using the Internet Payment Gateway they have set up. This to my mind is theft as I never signed off or gave permission to Noleggiare SRL for funds to be taken to pay for another person’s car hire.

What makes this even more invidious is that it would seem that Noleggiare SRL has misrepresented the facts to this bank and used their payment gateway to obtain payment from the Monte Dei Paschi Di Sienna” Bank. There is no suggestion that the Banca Monte Dei Paschi Di Sienna was in any way complicit in these actions nor that they are aware of what has taken place. Going forward maybe a review of such slack security arrangements that allow the removal of funds from “any customer of Noleggiare” by that company’s representatives may seem advisable.

Noleggiare SRL Rental Agreement – Document 2

This document shows the correct rental agreement for a Toyota Yaris in Olbia and multiple (5) signatures of the other person (with the same surname). However, the space used for the credit card details shows my credit card information (address, last 4 digits) together with this other person’s name and phone number.

Again this is not a simple mistake as this involves both copying and pasting contract details from 2 different agreements and then altering those to “seemingly” support the claim.

Letter Written “Monte Dei Paschi Di Sienna” Bank – Document 3

The letter to the “Monte Dei Paschi Di Sienna” Bank that is attached to these documents and quotes the terms and conditions for this case in respect of the bankruptcy of AtlasChoice (aka Evershine Travel Limited).

Happily, my rental was not with Evershine Travel Limited but with Rentalcars.com – that said if Noleggiare SRL is correct and may collect payment of any unpaid sums why would they choose to manufacture documents in order to collect this money from the wrong person?

My concern here is that the two original credit card (pre-booking/reservation) receipts made by Monte Dei Paschi Di Sienna” Bank both show the correct last 4 digits of the other person’s credit card, not my credit card. Why then did this bank choose to take money from my account? I can only assume that they also were duped by this car hire company and one might ask if they should engage in business with a company such as Noleggiare SRL seem to be.

Why Did Noleggiare SRL Manufacture Documents?

The answer may lie in the efficiency of Travel insurance company legal staff and loss adjusters. Having spoken to the other person involved – yes all his personal details (passport, drivers license, Credit Card) were shared with me and formed part of the “Evidence” in support of this bogus claim.

He has told me that he was contacted by Noleggiare SRL and the situation, as well as their intent to collect the payment for the hire from him, was explained. However, as he had paid Evershine Travel Limited he contacted his insurers who assured him they would settle the matter.

My guess is that the insurers were able to find some loophole that allowed them to argue the case for not paying the requested amount and so Noleggiare have had to get creative in order to collect the amount they required. My view, however, is that theft is still theft whatever the reason may be and if any person or company use deceit to obtain money then it is tantamount to fraud.

Translation of Noleggiare SRL “Merchant Declaration” – Document 4

I won’t bore you with the complete letter most of which is just an overview of the lack of payment from Atlas/Evershine Travel. However one article from the terms and conditions Noleggiare quote goes like this ” Customer is obliged to pay to the rental company following: Rental, as published on the http://www.noleggiare.com website as per tour operators conventions. In case of rental paid to tour operator, customers are jointly liable to pay for rentals not corresponded by the same tour operators  – this gibberish goes on to conclude with “it is clear that rental company has the right to ask single customers missing payments from Evershine Travel Limited”

Whilst this English is so poor as to make almost no sense at all I am still not convinced that these articles in the Terms and conditions allow for the charging of any customer with the same surname. That said as I am happily married maybe the “single customer” rule in the above article should be applied.

Private and Personal Documents of Clients Shared By Noleggiare SRL

Also included by way of proof were photocopies of the passport, drivers license and credit card for the other person involved in this. As other documents also showed his email and phone numbers I was able to contact the other person involved and advise him that this company had shared those details and it might be wise to change his credit card in case that sharing continued. I am not a lawyer and so not conversant with the privacy issues or legalities of sharing such information in Italy or even the EEC but in these days of Internet fraud, I would suggest that such practices should cease.

Here is what Noleggiare SRL website privacy policy starts with “The privacy and protection of personal data of our customers and visitors to our website http://www.noleggiare.it (infra also only the Website) is for Noleggiare Srl (infra also only Noleggiare), a value to be protected, in accordance with the provisions of the law. ” Certainly, I will never book with Noleggiare SRL knowing they are so free and easy with my personal information.

Certainly, I will never book with Noleggiare SRL knowing they are so free and easy with my personal information whatever statements of good intent their website makes. Of course, now they have my personal details on file what is to stop this happening again – absolutely nothing! 

Needless to say, my signature does not appear on any of the supporting documents, but in reality, only my own bank and Noleggiare SRL would be able to know that.

In Summation – Noleggiare SRL Dispute

Nolleggiare SRL has sought to charge for fees they did not receive as a result of a Travel company (Evershine Travel Limited) going into receivership. Despite the fact that I have never used that travel company nor indeed the Olbia office of Noleggiare my credit card details were given to Mastercard by it seems that same Olbia office of Noleggiare. Then when a dispute was raised by myself and Santander bank and proof of this purchase (car hire) was requested, Noleggiare created new versions of existing documents to support their claim as the existing documents did not do so. This despite the fact that a photocopy of the passport (also included) and the credit card used showed that they were not mine. This meant altering any documents to show a credit card of another customer (me) to support their claim. In addition using the Internet Payment Gateway (Olbia Office) to transfer money from my account to theirs – even when it was obviously not the correct credit card.

A simple Mistake Or Fraud? You decide and please let me know in the comment section below.

Santander Bank and Noleggiare Case Resolution

My dealings with Santander Bank during these months have at all times been cordial and all their representatives have been very helpful. Of special mention is Sam in customer support who has kept track of my case and also keeps me updated whilst the case is “ongoing”. That said I was surprised to hear that in all likelihood this case would not be pursued by Santander but that a request for the return of my money would be made.

This is understandable as the arbitrator, in this case, is not Santander but Mastercard. In essence, as my credit card was a Mastercard both parties in this dispute submit their evidence to Mastercard and a decision is then handed down from Mastercard.

It does seem that the Santander disputes team has already decided that they have a good chance of getting a favourable outcome – well for me at least, and so have sent me a form to confirm that I have viewed the evidence submitted and can confirm that this charge is not related to any purchases I made. My guess is that they may have looked at the evidence and realised that the wrong credit card has been debited.

However, my concern is that the Santander disputes team and the Fraud team are two different entities and so it is doubtful that as this case started as a dispute, that the fraud team will not be involved. To that end, I have requested that both the Santander Fraud team and also Mastercard be informed of the possibility of fraud in this case.

It would make sense, in my humble opinion to inform the Italian bank (Monte Dei Paschi Di Sienna) whose good name and reputation is tarnished every time any person or business uses their name (Letterhead) to perpetrate a scam.

How are we ever going to fight fraud if common courtesy between banks and credit card companies, does not extend to polite sharing of information when crimes involving them may have been committed.

Apart from a polite letter to Banca Monte Dei Paschi Di Sienna I would have thought it would have been prudent to also contact the Italian Police or at the very least the UK Police there is a simple online tool to do so here.

Then it might be an idea to also inform the car rental company (Noleggiare SRL) head office as in all probability this action may not have been sanctioned and so an internal investigation would help this happening again and so also help restore their good name.

Winners and Losers of the Noleggiare SRL Scam

Well, to be honest, I cannot see any winners only a bunch of losers.

  1. Banca Monte Dei Paschi Di Sienna – a waste of time and a loss of reputation as a result of their being lied to as part of this scam.
  2. Santander – Hours of wasted time for a number of people dealing with this, a further loss of approximately £1800 of interest on my credit card. This is based on the amount I paid off as soon as I realised I was being charged interest on the disputed amount.
  3. The “other person” involved who has now had his personal information shared and so will be applying for a new credit card.
  4. Noleggiare SRL – The amount of work needed in creating these documents will have taken time and someone was being paid during that time.  The issue is still not settled so once my money is reimbursed this company will need to start again. One wonders if the amount they have paid to collect this money has not already far exceed the actual amount in question. My guess is that it has but they don’t care because guess what wages are a tax deductible expense and so only the Italian government will be losing as a result. Of course any CEO of a business today should know what is going on in the company he is responsible for and so I hope he will read this post. Only time will tell just how much his company’s reputation online has diminished or the effect that may have on future sales or profits.
  5. As for me, I have also wasted a bunch of time and had to pay interest on a charge that was not mine. As Frank Sinatra said ” That’s Life

I am of course happy that this has after 6 months seemingly been resolved although I suspect I won’t believe it until after the money has been credited to my account. For now here is a video of the Santander Credit Card

Finally please understand that in the interest of both my privacy and that of the other person involved I have not at this time shown any of the documents here, but I retain a copy of all as indeed does the Santander Bank. Also, I have now made contact with the other person I mentioned here and will attempt to notify both the Italian Bank as well as Noleggiare SRL’s head office for a comment should so wish, before publishing this post. That said please feel free to add comments if you have had any past experience with this car rental company that was less than satisfactory and maybe together we can build a better picture of just what is going on so that others will have some honest feedback.

Stay Tuned for the Final Episode (Hopefully)

OK, this dispute has as yet not been resolved so if you want to know what happens just add a comment below and you’ll get an update when I get notified as I’ll post the result here.

How You can help others

I am asking that you share my post with your friends on social media in an effort to stop others from getting caught up in a similar scam when renting from Noleggiare SRL car rental company. At the very least if you need to use them then keep all documentation and make copies of documents they ask you to sign.

Remember “Sharing is Caring”

 

Update – Thank you to all my readers for sharing this story over this weekend, actually I just saw there are actually also 962 ReTweets & 961 likes on Twitter – 175 shares on Google + (not shown below).

***Social signals

ReTweets

 

Final Episode – Dispute resolution by Mastercard

After submitting a signed declaration that none of the charges were related to my car hire, my Credit card bank (Santander) were able to submit that declaration together with their own evidence to Mastercard for a decision on this matter. Happily, for me, Mastercard was in agreement that I should not have been charged and so that money has now been returned to my credit card account.

It seems, however, the Car Hire company Noleggiare SRL will not be referred to the Italian Police and so will be able to continue with such practices in the future. As ever there seems to be one law for the people and another for large companies,. Do you agree that large companies should be allowed to commit what seems like fraud (to me at least) without having to answer for that (in law)?  Where does that leave all those people who rent cars when on holiday? Let me know what you think in the comments below

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s