Over 5,000 people in the UK were victims of holiday booking fraud in 2018 with their losses amounting to £7m, a research has revealed.
A research conducted has revealed that more than 5,000 people in the UK lost a total amount of £7m in 2018, owing to holiday booking fraud.
Travel association ABTA disclosed that victims lost an average of £1,380 each, having bought fake airline tickets, accommodation or organised tours.
It said fraudsters were using sophisticated methods to target people looking for better offers.
“This crime causes very real emotional distress,” boss Mark Tanzer said.
He added that “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.''
More than half (53%) 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.
One in every four cases involved accommodation, such as payments to stay in upmarket villas which are either fictitious or are being offered without the owner’s knowledge.
The countries commonly affected among the destination were Spain and France.
In an instance, Libby from London booked a houseboat in Amsterdam for her birthday through what appeared at first to be a credible website, which asked her to pay via a money transfer service.
The price offered was low compared to other sites, and the account Libby transferred the cash to was Polish.
After repeated attempts to contact the agent, with no reply, she requested a full refund in line with the company’s guarantee, but she ended up losing the cost of the rental plus a £500 deposit.
Her bank and the money transfer service both said they could not compensate her.
‘Feeling of embarrassment’
Another victim, Sue, from Solihull, and her family billed a week’s stay at a Spanish villa online.
She opted to pay half the cost up front plus a deposit totalling £1,305, via a bank transfer. But when she emailed the company for more information she got no reply.
In the end she lost the money and had to book for another villa as she had already paid for six flights.
“There is a startling emotional impact of falling victim to holiday fraud bringing the feeling of embarrassment and disappointment to those we love,” said Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud.
She advised that ''it is important that you do your research when making travel arrangements.”
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