A warning has been issued to those booking holidays online, as it is revealed that British holidaymakers were conned out of £2.2m last year.
Criminal groups have targeted online booking firms to steal cash from unsuspecting customers and many only find out they have been conned when they arrive at their hotel and find no record of their booking.
A report from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau found that in one case a holidaymaker lost £62,000 in a fraud relating to a dodgy timeshare scheme.
But losses are not just financial, with a third of victims saying the fraud has a substantial impact on their health as well as their finances and 167 victims said the impact of the crime was so severe they needed medical treatment.
The scams see a spike in the summer months and in December, which mean that many ruined trips will be for those trying to visit loved ones for Christmas.
The report shows that, during a 12-month period, 1,569 cases of holiday booking fraud were reported to the police action fraud team, with most relating to plane tickets, hacking accounts, posting fake adverts online and setting up bogus websites.
Sports and religious trips were an attractive target because of limited availability and higher prices and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and World Cup in Brazil were also targeted, with many people paying for fake tickets or accommodation.
Those aged between 30 and 49 were most often targeted and most victims were defrauded by methods such as bank transfers or cash with no means of getting their money back. Only a small number paid by credit or debit card where some form of redress is available.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: “Holiday fraud is a particularly distressing form of fraud as the loss to the victim is not just financial but it can also have a high emotional impact.
“Many victims are unable to get away on a long-awaited holiday or visit to loved ones and the financial loss is accompanied by a personal loss.
“We would also encourage anyone who has been the victim of a travel-related fraud to report it so that the police can build up a case, catch the perpetrators and prevent other unsuspecting people from falling victim.”
Detective chief superintendent Dave Clark, the City of London Police head of economic crime, said: “Online shoppers must be vigilant and conduct all the necessary checks before booking a break to ensure the conmen are kept at bay.”
Source Credits: Sky News