Fraudsters stole £6.7 million from 4,700 unsuspecting holidaymakers and other travellers in 2017, a report by ABTA reveals.
The effects are often much more than simply stolen money with almost half (2,245) of victims saying that it also had had a significant impact on their health or financial well-being.
The most common types of travel fraud relate to the sale of airline tickets (47%) and accommodation booking (38%).
These are only the reported figures of course as many people do not report that they’ve been scammed.
The numbers of people reporting travel fraud to the police jumps in the summer and in December. This is a clear indication that fraudsters are targeting the peak holiday periods and the people heading home to visit friends and family.
The visiting friends and family market is particularly attractive to fraudsters offering fake flight tickets and package arrangements. Where destinations were reported by victims, 54% said they had been intending to travel to Africa and 24% to Asia.
The Most Common Travel Booking Frauds
- Holiday accommodation – holiday accommodation fraudsters set up fake websites, hack into legitimate accounts and post fake adverts on websites and social media.
- Airline tickets – where a customer believes they are booking a flight but receive a fake ticket or they pays for a ticket that never turns up. In 2017, flights to Africa and the Indian sub-continent were particularly targeted.
- Sports and religious trips– a popular target for fraud due to limited availability of tickets and consequently higher prices.
- Caravanning – Action fraud reported a number of consumers reporting being the victim of fraud relating to mobile home holidays.
Top tips to avoid becoming a travel fraud victim
- Stay safe online: Check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from .co.uk to .org
- Do your research: Do a thorough online search to check the company’s credentials. If a company is defrauding people there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experiences, and warnings about the company.
- Look for the logo: Check whether the company is a member of a recognised trade body such as ABTA. If you have any doubts, you can verify membership of ABTA online, at www.abta.com.
- Wherever possible, pay by credit card and be wary about paying directly into a private individual’s bank account.
- Check documentation: You should study 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 something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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