£7.2 Million Defrauded on Online Travel Purchases in 2016
You are a holiday scam mark, according to the Action Fraud’s (AF) online site, if “you’ve paid a travel agent or agency, or someone offering short-term lodging for rent online, and find out that the holiday you’ve booked (or parts of it) doesn’t exist.”
Injured parties throughout the United Kingdom (UK) were defrauded in total last year, in amounts totaling £7.2 million, according to data collected by AF, with “airline tickets, online accommodation and timeshares targeted” most frequently. The total number of those victimized went as high 5,826 in 2016, a figure nearly 20% higher from the 4,910 suffering from scams in 2015.
£1,200, the average money amount lost, is what is usually spent during the holidays, thereby making the spenders an easy mark for the perpetrators of fraud. But it is not merely about the money as over 25% of the fraud victims have stated that the incident(s) “had a significant impact on their health or financial well-being,” with 259 individuals indicating that the trauma was “severe”, with the end result being that they “had to receive medical treatment or were at risk of bankruptcy.”
The perpetrators use all kinds of ways to try to abscond with travelers’ money by acting at the most expensive times to take trips, e.g., Summertime and Christmas. They offer inexpensive, fake airline flights. They operate in a similar fashion when it comes to concerts or other popular pastimes, such as sports.
A big concern, according to AF, was in evidence in 2016, when airline travel to India and Africa were especially focused on. It looked as if the scammers were going after the “visiting friends and family market” because those folks may have less information about strict laws that govern the well regulated UK travel business.
Steve Proffitt of AF has pleaded with those on holiday to be very careful when making arrangements for travel and hotel stays and saying no to anything that does not seem right or merely unusual.
Proffitt cautioned that “Action Fraud has seen a consistent rise in the number of holiday fraud reports made over the past five years. We recommend that people are thorough when researching their travel arrangements and book directly with an airline or hotel, or through a reputable agent. When deciding to deal directly with a property owner or letting agent, ask them questions about the booking, room, location and area.
“From fraudulent flights to non-existent accommodation, the impact of falling victim to holiday fraud can be far greater than the financial loss and we hope that by raising awareness, people will feel better able to protect themselves from being a victim of fraud. We urge anyone who believes they have been a victim of fraud to visit actionfraud.police.uk and report the incident.”
AF has provided a list of ideas to ascribe to so as not to be scammed, including:
“Pay close attention to the URL of any site you visit to buy tickets – are there spelling errors? Has the extension changed, e.g. from .co.uk to .org?
- Research the company you’re making the booking with
- Look for logos showing membership of recognised trade bodies like the ABTA
- Never pay for your bookings by direct bank transfer as these kinds of payments are hard to trace and you won’t be entitled to a refund if things go wrong.”