Holidaymakers looking to book a trip away this summer, for many the first in several years, have been warned of a huge rise in fraud related to booking flights and accommodation. Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, received 4,244 reports of holiday and travel related fraud in the last year.
This is an increase of 120 per cent compared to the previous financial year across 2020 and 2021. Victims in these cases reported losing a total of £7,388,353, which works out at an average loss of £1,868 per victim.
Whilst the majority of accommodation providers who make use of online booking platforms are legitimate, more and more criminals are using these platforms to defraud potential holidaymakers, advertising counterfeit accommodation that looks very real.
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In fact, over seven per cent of the 4,244 victims reported falling prey to fraudsters impersonating legitimate travel companies, including clone comparison websites, airline websites and holiday accommodation websites.
In some cases, victims have searched for flight tickets online and have found a website they believe to be the company’s genuine website. In other cases, victims responded to an approach or advertisement on social media or used what they believed was a legitimate flight comparison website to search for flights.
In both these kinds of cases, victims reported being contacted by someone purporting to be from the airline, or flight comparison website, to take them through the booking procedure and take payment. Once they have received the victim’s money, fraudsters may completely end contact, exposing the con, or in some cases provide the victim with fake booking information.
Sadly, some victims in these cases have only become aware of the deception when they arrive at the airport ready for their long-awaited holiday and are unable to check-in.
Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said: “As the world begins to open up and travel restrictions relax further, it’s no surprise that more people are eager to get away and kick back with their loved ones after two years of lockdowns and restrictions.
“Unfortunately, we know that as demand for holidays soar, so does the number of scams and criminals are always finding new ways to catch people out and make them part with their hard earned cash.
“When booking a holiday here or abroad, it’s so important to do your research before handing over any money or personal details. Trust your instincts and remember, if a deal looks too good to be true, then it probably is.”
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