Maharashtra: Tourist loses money to fake Tadoba safari booking site

Tadoba safari

NAGPUR: Those planning online bookings for a safari in tiger reserves/parks beware! An engineer working with Chandrapur Super Thermal Power Station (CSTPS) lost Rs5,400 after attempting to book a safari in Tadoba buffer through a website.

The official booking website of Tadoba is www.mytadoba.org. Rajesh Mahajan, who is posted as an executive engineer in CSTPS, booked a May 15 safari from a website tadobasafaribooking.in around 6 am on May 11. However, he ended up losing the sum and did not get entry as promised.

Talking to TOI, Mahajan said, “Being near to my place, I opted for Agarzari-Dewada gate which was shown as available and hence I proceeded with payment of Rs5,400. The payment was successful and I waited for the confirmation message on the mail or cell phone, which never came.”
At 9 am, Mahajan received a call from a person who identified himself as Rishi saying the opted zone didn’t have any entry available and said the same was available from Keslaghat and Zari Peth gates and sent a roadmap. “I was reluctant, but as money was already paid I asked the caller to confirm Zari Peth, which is again 20-25km from my place,” said Mahajan.

At 10.45 am, Mahajan received another call from some other person saying he was calling from Tadoba Safari and said, “As there is congestion in the booking network, the entry from Zari Peth gate also cannot be confirmed. On May 15, entry is available from Mamla gate only. If you still want to confirm, please inform or we will cancel the booking and refund the sum.”

Mahajan said, “I asked the guy to cancel the booking. He promised to refund the money and sought some time. The caller sent a screenshot of the refund, but the amount has still not been credited. He said it is an online gateway payment refund and that takes time to get credited. Even after four days, the sum has not been refunded.”

When Mahajan called the original caller Rishi, his phone was switched off. The number on the website was connected to Kaziranga National Park in Assam.
Mahajan, who is also president of District Consumer Forum, says, “This is not the first time I’ve booked a safari online. I had done it at least 8-10 times, but I also don’t know how I went with the flow and realized the mistake when there was no refund. I will lodge a police complaint.”

TATR field director Dr. Jitendra Ramgaonkar says, “These websites are fraud and Tadoba administration has reported about it to the police, cyber cell and is also approaching the courts to stop the menace.”

“On November 15, 2021, one Anup Sawarkar was tricked by one such website in a similar manner. A complaint was lodged with Durgapur police and we had listed at least 8 fake websites with Tadoba’s name on it. Tourists need to be cautious while making online safari bookings,” said Nandkishore Kale, deputy director (core).

Many resort owners and tourists have been urging to shift the booking website to mahaecotourism.gov.in because the ‘gov’ on the website can prevent many frauds. “It indicates that it is a government website. We don’t know why TATR is sticking to mytadoba.org?” they asked.