A NEW report has revealed that over 5,000 holidaymakers were left out of pocket by travel and holiday related scams last year.
Their loses came to a staggering £7 million – an average of £1,380 per person.
The number of victims of travel and holiday scams is on the rise[/caption]
The report from travel association ABTA, Action Fraud and Get Safe Online revealed that the number of reported cases increased by 14 per cent compared to the previous year.
In 2017, there were 4,382 people who fell victim to a travel and holiday related scam.
Their loss totalled £6.7 million.
The report also identified three key scam – here’s what you need to know:
Sale of airline tickets
The most common scam was related to the sale of airline tickets – 53 per cent of victims reported a crime in this category.
The report said that the crimes were reported throughout the year, but the month of August saw a particularly big spike, with £425,000 lost to scammers.
But it’s not just holidaymakers that are targeted – family and friends of those living in Africa and Indian subcontinent are also particularly vulnerable.
There are several scams but one of the most common one involves fraudsters targeting these groups with incredible deals, either online or via phone, which don’t actually exist.
Fraudsters will also offer free flights on social media platforms in order to steal personal information.
In the past, there have been scams offering fake tickets for EasyJet, Ryanair, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
Brits were conned out of over £7million last year[/caption]
Of the scams reported, 25 per cent involved accommodation, with most of the scams reported in October.
Many of the properties used to scam holidaymakers are based in France or Spain.
It’s thought that most of these scams took place during the peak holiday season but were only reported afterwards.
In most cases, holidaymakers are booking holiday villas on scam websites.
They are either listing villas that don’t exist or villas that do but are offered without the owner’s knowledge.
Some of the websites look incredibly realistic and some even have fake reviews to bolster their authenticity.
Once victims go to book, they are asked to send money via direct transfer and end up losing their money.
ABTA has seen a rise in the number of people targeted for religious trips – some are even offered by high street travel agents who aren’t qualified.
The trips can cost upwards of £10,000 as they’re so specialist.
Those going on Haj trips are particularly attractive to fraudsters.
How to avoid travel and holiday scams
Action Fraud, ABTA and Get Safe Online have published advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of holiday booking fraud – and on how victims should go about reporting it.
- Stay safe online: Check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from .co.uk to .org
- Do your research: Don’t just rely on one review – do a thorough online search to check the company’s credentials. If a company is defrauding people there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experiences, and warnings about the company.
- Look for the logo: Check whether the company is a member of a recognised trade body such as ABTA. If you have any doubts, you can verify membership of ABTA online, at www.abta.com.
- Pay safe: Wherever possible, pay by credit card and be wary about paying directly into a private individual’s bank account.
- Check paperwork: You should study receipts, invoices as well as terms and conditions. Be very wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all. When booking through a Holiday Club or Timeshare, get the contract thoroughly vetted by a solicitor before signing up.
- Use your instincts: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Report it: Victims should contact Action Fraud via www.actionfraud.police.uk.
- Get free expert advice: For further advice on how to stay safe when booking or researching travel online, go to Get Safe Online
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Sun Online Travel previously revealed some of the popular holiday scams.
In Palma for example, there are ten common scams ruining holidays for tourists.
Earlier this year, Action Fraud of a rise in phone-based travel scams.