Holiday booking fraud is on the rise with more than £7million fleeced out of victims last year
- More than 5,000 British holidaymakers reported losses from booking scams
- Most related to sale of airline tickets targeting people visiting Africa and India
- Other cases involve payments to stay at upmarket villas that don’t even exist
Holidaymakers were fleeced out of more than £7million by fraudsters last year, new figures show.
The amount of money stolen represents an increase from £6.7million in 2017, fraud reporting centre Action Fraud said.
More than half (53 per cent) of the crimes related to the sale of airline tickets, with scammers particularly targeting people visiting family and friends in Africa and the Indian subcontinent.
Fraud reporting centre Action Fraud has revealed holidaymakers were fleeced out of more than £7million by fraudsters last year
One in four (25 per cent) cases involve accommodation, such as payments to stay in upmarket villas which are either fictitious or are being offered without the owner’s knowledge.
Spain and France are among the destinations most commonly affected by this issue.
More than 5,000 people reported losses last year, costing victims an average of £1,380 each.
Holidaymakers are being urged not to rely on a small number of online reviews, and to be wary of paying a private individual by bank transfer.
Travel trade organisation Abta’s chief executive Mark Tanzer said: ‘Abta sees at first hand the damage caused by travel fraudsters after customers find out their much anticipated holiday or trip to visit family and friends does not actually exist.
‘The cost to victims is not just financial. This crime causes very real emotional distress.
Holidaymakers are being urged not to rely on a small number of online reviews, and to be wary of paying a private individual by bank transfer
‘Fraudsters are using increasingly sophisticated methods to target destinations and times of year when demand is high and availability limited, as they know people will be looking for good deals.
‘As victims often find out just before they travel or even in resort that they have been defrauded, it can then be very difficult and expensive to obtain a legitimate replacement booking compounding the financial costs and emotional distress suffered by victims.’
Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud, said: ‘There is a startling emotional impact of falling victim to holiday fraud bringing the feeling of embarrassment and disappointment to those we love, so we want to ensure that people feel better able to protect themselves.
‘We know that fraudsters are increasingly using more sophisticated ways to trick their victims, which is why it is important that you do your research when making travel arrangements.’