ABTA, The City of London Police and Get Safe Online have re-joined forces to warn the general public about the dangers posed by holiday booking fraud.
Findings from a new report compiled by the City of London Police reveal the scale of reported crime and expose common tactics used by fraudsters who stole an estimated £2.2 million from unsuspecting holidaymakers and other travellers in 2014.
According to the report compiled by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) section of the City of London Police, the most common type of crime involved fraudsters hacking into the accounts of owners on well-known accommodation sites or spoofing these websites with convincing bogus imitations.
Disappointed holidaymakers found the villas and apartments they thought they had booked and paid for were non-existent or had never been booked.
UK caravan stays were also targeted with adverts for non-existent accommodation posted on Facebook, Gumtree and Craigslist.
Due to the nature of the crime, losses to the individual can be substantial with the average loss being £889. In one single case a member of the public lost £62,000 in a fraud relating to timeshare.
Losses are not just financial, with a third of victims saying that the fraud had a substantial impact on their health as well as their financial well-being. 167 victims reported that the impact of the crime was so severe that they had had to receive medical treatment.
There are spikes of reported fraud in the summer months and in December which paint a very clear picture of disappointed holidaymakers and ruined trips to visit loved ones for Christmas. The age group most commonly targeted are those aged 30-49, many of whom will be families. The majority of those who had been defrauded paid by methods such as bank transfer or cash with no means of getting their money back. Only a small proportion paid by credit or debit card where some form of redress is available to get your money back.
The 2014 report reveals that during a 12 month period 1,569 cases of holiday booking fraud were reported to the force’s Action Fraud. The most common types relate to holiday accommodation, airline tickets, sports and religious trips and holiday clubs.