‘Beware’ of holiday scams which left victims being turned away at the airport | #socialmedia


A warning has been issued to the public to “beware” of scams on social media targeting holidaymakers.

Some victims have only become aware that they’ve been scammed after being unable to check-in for their flight at the airport, according to the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime Action Fraud.

New figures released by the organisation this month show that there were 1,907 reports of holiday and travel related fraud between April 2020 and April 2021, with a total of £2,205,251 reported in losses.

And although this is lower than the previous year, Action Fraud said the decline was “predicted” due to travel being banned for much of the year due to lockdown. It’s now warning the public as travel resumes.

It said that over the last year criminals have targeted unsuspecting holidaymakers booking airline tickets (56%) and holiday accommodation (29%). The majority of victims were aged between 19 and 50.

Almost a third (32%) of reports involved the victim having contact with the suspect after responding to an approach, or advertisement, on social media. Facebook was the most commonly used platform (62%).

Online booking platforms, such as Abirbnb and Booking.com, are said to have been mentioned in almost 10% of reports to the organisation. These act as a platform for third parties to advertise accommodation.

Action Fraud said that whilst many accommodation providers who use online booking platforms are legitimate, some criminals will use such platforms to defraud victims by advertising bogus accommodation.

Around 7% of those scammed reported falling victim to suspects impersonating legitimate travel companies, including clone comparison websites, airline websites and holiday accommodation websites.

Victims in some cases searched for flight tickets online and found a website which they believed to be the company’s genuine website. In other cases, they used what they thought was a legitimate comparison site.

And in both instances, victims are said to have reported being contacted by someone purporting to be from the airline, or flight comparison site, to take them through the booking procedure and take payment.

Warning over the scams, Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud, said: “We are all more eager than ever to go on a holiday and relax with family and friends, following the coronavirus pandemic.

“However, criminals will stop at nothing when it comes to defrauding innocent people out of a well-deserved break and their hard-earned cash.”

“Criminals are increasingly using more sophisticated ways to trick their victims, which is why it’s important that we all do our research when booking a holiday and making travel arrangements.

“Regardless of whether you’re planning on travelling abroad, or going on a domestic holiday this year, remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

As stated by Action Fraud, there are a number of tips to avoid falling victim to holiday fraud, including:

  • Stay safe online: Check the web address is legitimate and hasn’t 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 ensure the company is credible. If a company is defrauding people, there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experience, and warnings about the company.
  • Look for the logo: Check whether the company is an ABTA Member. Look for the ABTA logo on the company’s website. If you have any doubts, you can verify membership of ABTA online on their website. If you’re booking a flight and want more information about ATOL protection, or would like to check whether a company is an ATOL holder, visit the CAA website.
  • Pay safe: Wherever possible, pay by credit card. You should avoid paying directly into a private individual’s bank account.
  • Check the paperwork: You should study receipts, invoices and terms and conditions, and 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 a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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You can find a full list of tips on the ABTA website. Anyone who thinks they’ve been a victim of fraud already should contact their bank and report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Are you hoping to go on holiday over the summer this year? Let us know in the comments section.





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