TRAINING DATE: 08/08/2019
Issued by Travelmole 8th May
The number of reported cases of holiday booking fraud in the UK has risen for the fifth consecutive year.
According to a new report by the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, there were 5,826 cases last year – a rise of 20%.
In total, fraudsters stole £7.2 million from unsuspecting holidaymakers by using a number of different scams.
But ABTA, the City of London Police and Get Safe Online believe this is only the tip of the iceberg as many victims don’t report what’s happened to them.
The three organisations have joined together to launch a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of holiday fraud and of the tactics being used.
They say the average amount lost per person in 2016 was around £1,200, but the damage goes beyond just the financial.
Over a quarter (26%) of victims say the fraud had a significant impact on their health or financial well-being and more than 250 people said the impact was severe, meaning they had to receive medical treatment or were at risk of bankruptcy.
Those aged 20-29 and 30-39 were the most vulnerable, with older generations less likely to fall victim, particularly those over 50s.
It is believed that customers may be particularly vulnerable in 2017 as the overseas travel industry is reporting good early booking levels with accommodation and flights at a premium.
“Fraudsters could take advantage of this by offering ‘good deals’ over the summer,” say campaigners.
“These will then fail to materialise, leaving people out of pocket and with either no flights or nowhere to stay.”
The majority of those who are defrauded pay by methods such as bank transfer or cash with no means of getting their money back.
Some fraudsters now actively encourage these payment methods by claiming that only these payment methods are protected by their own bogus insurance schemes.
ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “ABTA is regularly contacted by members of the public who have been caught out by increasingly sophisticated travel related frauds.
“We know at first-hand that the loss and shock of finding that your flight or holiday accommodation has not been booked can be very significant.”
He urged holidaymakers to follow the online advice put together for the campaign.