What is a Holiday Scam ?
Holiday scams and fraud usually end with individuals handing over money only to discover the holiday accommodation and/or flights they paid for do not exist. With the recent surge in holiday advertising and increased demand for staycations, UK Finance has urged travellers to be aware of fake listings for UK cottages, motorhomes and caravan holidays, as well as deals relating to music festivals, cooking retreats and cycling holidays.
Prevalence of scams
During 2020, 56% of reported holiday scams related to the booking airline tickets with 29% related to the sale of accommodation.
Almost 32% of victims were found to have had contact with the suspect after they responded to an approach or advertisement on a media platform. Of these, Facebook was the most common platform at 62% with Airbnb and Booking.com accounting for 10% each. These are online destinations where third parties get to advertise their ‘wares’ to prospective holidaymakers and present a ripe opportunity for scammers to target victims relatively cheaply.
An increasingly common scam is to optimize a fake website to capture interest from people searching in Google searching for cheap flights or cheap accommodation. They will always be convincing and usually get victims to type in personal information, if not asking for full payment. Victims will then often receive a call from someone ‘from the airline’ offering to help them through the online journey and complete their payment. Sadly this might only become apparent as a fraud when the holidaymaker attempts to check-in at the airport for a holiday that does not exist.
Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, stated: “We are all more eager than ever to go on a holiday and relax with family and friends, following the coronavirus pandemic. However, criminals will stop at nothing when it comes to defrauding innocent people out of a well-deserved break and their hard-earned cash.
Criminals are increasingly using more sophisticated ways to trick their victims, which is why it’s important that we all do our research when booking a holiday and making travel arrangements… whether you’re planning on travelling abroad, or going on a domestic holiday this year”