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Wire money in advance to local guide - safe?

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Hi All, After a lot of planning and research, we are having David Choque (highly recommended on this forum several times) plan our trip (in 2 weeks) for us. He has worked out a terrific itinerary at a reasonable price. However, for payment, he wants half the money wired up front. He does have a "Visa verified by Visa VeriSign secured online payment" option on his web site:

but it gives the following message:

We are sorry but the online payment service of the tour operator that you want to access is temporarily unavailable or expired, Please contact with the tour operator directly and inform of this error to your tour operator
Thank you for your understanding

I know some travelers mentioned wiring money up front. Is this to be expected?I'm nervous about sending several thousand $ like this. It seems like a very unsafe method of conducting business. Any thoughts and reassurances would be highly appreciated.

Thank you all - you;re a wonderful community and our vacations have become much better since I started using the forum.

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