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Possible Pride scam

People who signed up to win a free vacation at the Vancouver Pride Festival Aug 3 received phone calls Aug 12 from a group that identified itself at least once as “Vancouver Pride.”

Representatives of Imperial Cruise Vacations then asked Pride goers for their credit card numbers to charge a $299-per-person promotional fee to secure a luxury trip to the Bahamas.

A Google search on the company’s telephone number uncovered hundreds of complaints from other people who had received similar calls from Imperial Cruise Vacations, including people who attended Toronto Pride in July.

When contacted by Xtra West, representatives from the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) launched an immediate investigation.

Within a few hours, the VPS received three additional reports from people who received similar calls, and posted an advisory on its website: “We have been told that this group is representing themselves as being from Vancouver Pride but the Vancouver Pride Society has no affiliation with this group known as Vacation and Cruise or Imperial Cruise Vacations,” it said. “For your protection and security, the VPS highly recommends that you do not give out your credit card information to this organization.”

Despite repeated calls, no one from Imperial Cruise Vacations could be reached for comment.

VPS treasurer Ken Coolen managed to reach Imperial and says the company maintains it’s running a legitimate business and that there is nothing criminal about making phone calls.

Mark Fernandes, a communications person with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in Vancouver, says Imperial Cruise Vacations, also known as Imperial Majesty Cruiselines and Ramada Plaza Resorts, has received 1150 consumer complaints in the last three years. The BBB in Florida, where the company is based, has given it a failing grade of F.