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Police team up to take action against villa fraudsters

Posted on 13th April 2015

Holiday makers are being urged to take extra security steps to protect themselves against villa fraudsters this summer.  

Derbyshire Constabulary has teamed up with ABTA, The City of London Police and Get Safe Online to warn residents about the dangers posed by holiday booking fraud.

Following a report from the City of London Police, it was revealed that fraudsters stole an estimated £2.2million from unsuspecting holidaymakers and other travellers in 2014, with one victim losing £62,000 to timeshare fraud.

According to the report the most common type of crime involved fraudsters hacking into the accounts of owners on well-known accommodation sites such as airbnb.com and Homeaway.com or spoofing these websites with convincing bogus imitations.

Disappointed holidaymakers found the villas and apartments they thought they had booked and paid for were non-existent or had never been booked. UK caravan stays were also targeted with adverts for non-existent accommodation posted on Facebook, Gumtree and Craigslist.

Detective Inspector Rob King, Head of the Derbyshire Economic Crime Unit said: “Families work hard to save up for their holiday and fraudsters are taking advantage of this by offering deals that seem too good to miss, which saw over 1,500 cases being reported to Action Fraud last year.  

“The most common scams reported related to holiday accommodation, airline tickets and package holidays, particularly around group, sport and religious packages.

“Thankfully, by following some simple yet effective steps, you can enjoy your holiday without falling victim to holiday booking scams.

“Firstly, always do your research and check that the company and the website address that you are using are legitimate and have not been altered, such as changing from .com to .org.

“Secondly, check whether the company that you are using is a member of a recognised trade body such as ABTA. This offers extra reassurance that the organisation is trustworthy.

“Finally, use your instincts, if the deal sounds too good to be true then it probably is, so always take the time to check the details of your holiday before booking.”

Other advice includes never paying directly into an owner’s bank account, instead use a credit card where possible, or a debit card that offers protection. Make sure that any receipts, invoices and terms and conditions are read carefully, and beware of any companies that don’t provide any at all.

If you think that you have been a victim of fraud, contact the non-emergency number for Derbyshire police on 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Do you need a quick answer to a general question? Then we recommend you visit the national Ask The Police web site.