British holidaymakers have been urged to keep their eyes peeled online after the reveal that fraudsters stole £7 million from unaware travellers in 2018. More than 5,000 people have reported scams related to their travels to the UK’s Action Fraud service last year, reaching a total of just over £7 million. This is an increase on the 12 months prior when 4382 victims reported losing £6.7 million.
A disappointing luxury
On average, each person lost £1,380, with 53 per cent of the reported crimes relating to airline ticket fraud. The largest single loss was a large sum of £425,000.
Fraud linked to accommodation rentals then followed, accounting for 25 per cent of scams reported to Action Fraud. Spain and France are two particularly popular destinations for fraudsters, with fooling websites that usually offer luxury villas for rent without the consent of the owners.
That’s how they get you
These findings are part of an awareness-raising campaign by travel association ABTA, Action Fraud and the government-backed Get Safe Online, designed to warn holidaymakers about potential scams in time for the busy summer season.
“The cost to victims is not just financial; this crime causes very real emotional distress. 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,” explained ABTA CEO Mark Tanzer.
“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.”
The report also warned of scams targeting pilgrims to religious sites such as the Haj, where average losses reached a total of £10,000.
Tony Neate, CEO at Get Safe Online, urged consumers to perform thorough research before booking. This includes reading user reviews and conducting online searches for the company in question.
“Look out for companies that are members of professional bodies such as ABTA and be wary of paying a private individual by bank transfer, even if you are offered a discounted rate,” he added. “Paying by credit card will offer you much more protection from fraud. Finally, trust your instincts, don’t get rushed into making impulsive decisions if something doesn’t feel quite right.”
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