The average amount lost per person to holiday fraud last year was approximately £1,200, but losses are not just financial; they can also have an impact on health. Over a quarter (26%) of victims say that the fraud had also had a significant impact on their health or financial well-being. Most worryingly of all, 259 people said the impact on them was severe, meaning that they had to receive medical treatment or were at risk of bankruptcy. The most common types of holiday fraud relate to the sale of airline tickets, booking accommodation online as well as timeshare sales.
In 2016, 5,826 cases of holiday booking fraud were reported to Action Fraud. The most common types of fraud related to:
In common with previous years, the numbers of people reporting travel fraud to the police jumps in the summer and in December. This is a very clear indication that fraudsters are targeting the most popular travel periods. 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. These will then fail to materialise, leaving people out of pocket and with either no flights or nowhere to stay.
The two age groups most commonly targeted are those aged 20-29 and 30-39, with older generations less likely to fall victim, particularly those over 50 who are perhaps more wary of “too good to be true” offers. 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.
Deputy Head of Action Fraud, Steve Proffitt, said: “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.”
Report fraud and cyber crime to Action Fraud and receive a police crime reference number.