Britons hit by holiday fraud scams

Fraudsters are stealing around £7 million a year from holidaymakers, according to a police report.

Holidaymakers are losing seven million pounds per year to fraudsters, figures show
Holidaymakers are losing seven million pounds per year to fraudsters, figures show

Scams include travellers receiving fake airline tickets, with flights to West Africa a particular target.

One couple were left more than £1,000 out of pocket after being conned into booking a holiday at Loch Ness at a romantic lodge that did not exist.

From the City of London Police's National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), the report showed that during a 12-month period more than 4,500 cases of holiday booking fraud were reported.

Fraud included fake packages for the Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and also for golf's Ryder Cup.

The NFIB, travel organisation Abta and the Get Safe Online initiative are all warning of possible fraud ahead of the Ryder Cup this year and also this summer's football World Cup in Brazil and the Commonwealth Games in Scotland.

The report showed that 30% of holiday fraud victims in 2013 were scammed by the fraudulent advertisement of holiday villas and apartments, with some arriving at their destination to discover they had nowhere to stay.

Airline ticket fraud accounted for around 21% of the total scams.

The Loch Ness fraud victims were Laura and Sean Parks from Thirsk in North Yorkshire. Mrs Parks bought a Loch Ness weekend Valentine's break for her husband, a soldier on leave from Afghanistan.

The couple were stranded in a blizzard after paying a bogus company for a lodge that did not exist. It had been advertised on Facebook and through a professional-looking website but it turned out that photos of the lodge had been taken from another legitimate website that had nothing to do with the firm Mrs Parks dealt with.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: "Fraudsters are conning unsuspecting holidaymakers and travellers out of thousands of pounds each year - leaving them out of pocket or stranded with nowhere to stay through fake websites, false advertising, bogus phone calls and email scams."

NFIB director Detective Superintendent Peter O'Doherty said: "The internet has changed the way we look for and book our holidays. Unfortunately it is also enabling fraudsters to prey upon those looking for that perfect break."

Get Safe Online chief executive Tony Neate said it was vital for holidaymakers to do their research before booking.