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Action Fraud is warning the public to remain vigilant against holiday fraud, as travel restrictions begin to ease.
Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, received 1,907 reports of holiday and travel related fraud in 2020/21 financial year – a decrease of over 70 per cent when compared to the previous financial year.
However, although a decline in reporting was predicted due to the fact travel was banned for large periods of the year, losses by victims still totalled £2,205,251 during this time – an average loss of £1,242 per victim.
Action Fraud has launched a national awareness campaign (Monday 17 May 2021) to remind the public to think twice before handing over their money and personal information when booking holidays, following the government’s recent announcement on international travel resuming.
Last year, criminals targeted unsuspecting holidaymakers booking airline tickets (56 per cent) and holiday accommodation (29 per cent). Almost three quarters of victims were aged between 19 to 50 years old (73 per cent).
Almost a third (32 per cent) of reports stated the victim had contact with the suspect after they responded to an approach, or advertisement, on a social media platform.
Out of these reports, Facebook was the most common platform (62 per cent) where victims were defrauded.
Online booking platforms, such as Airbnb and Booking.com, were mentioned in almost 10 per cent of reports made. Online booking platforms act as a platform for third parties to advertise accommodation.
Whilst many accommodation providers who make use of online booking platforms are legitimate, some criminals will use these platforms to defraud victims by advertising bogus accommodation.
Some victims (7 per cent) reported falling victim to suspects impersonating legitimate travel companies, including clone comparison websites, airline websites and holiday accommodation websites.
In some cases, victims have searched for flight tickets online and have found a website they believe to be the company’s genuine website. In other cases, victims have used what they believe to be legitimate flight comparison websites to search for flights.
In both instances, victims reported being contacted by someone purporting to be from the airline, or flight comparison website, to take them through the booking procedure and take payment.
Sadly, some victims have only become aware that they have been the victim of fraud when they arrive at the airport and are unable to check-in.
Tops tip to avoid falling victim to holiday fraud
For a full list of tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, please visit https://www.abta.com/tips-and-advice/planning-and-booking-a-holiday/how-avoid-travel-related-fraud.
If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.