By Kate Brown
Holidaymakers are being warned after a rise in booking fraud has been revealed. In 2017, nearly 5,000 travellers fell victim to holiday scams which included false adverts on accommodation websites and fake airline tickets. According to police, holidaymakers lost on average £1,500 each, an overall total of £6.7 million. This figure is a 25% rise on the previous year.
In many of the cases reported and investigated, fraudsters had managed to hack into accommodation websites and asked travellers to pay them directly. After payments had been made, they would no longer be contactable. The Associate of British Travel Agents (ABTA) also warned about fake airline tickets specifically flying to Africa and Asia.
In order to better protect your money, ABTA advises travellers to:
- Research the holiday company’s credentials and to look at several reviews of the property involved
- Check whether the web address is legitimate
- Be cautious if asked to pay directly into an individual’s bank account. Bank transfers are difficult to trace – it is safer to use a debit or credit card
Almost half of those affected by holiday booking fraud reported it had had a significant impact on their health or financial well-being. Nearly 600 of those victims claimed they were in need of medical treatment or at risk of bankruptcy. The chief executive of the Association of British Travel Agents, Mark Tanzer, said: “the cost to them is not just financial. This crim causes very real disappointment and emotional stress”.