12th April 2016

Cost of Travel Fraud Rises Dramatically

Recent press coverage states that the amount of money lost to travel fraudsters increased by 425% in 2015. Up to £11.5 million was lost by victims of fraud last year, the most ever recorded. This compared to £2.2 million in 2014 and an estimated £7 million the year before. Although most fraud related to the sale of airline tickets and overseas holidays, there has also been a surge in the number of owner accounts being hacked into on popular sharing accommodation websites such as Air B&B. However there has also a marked increase in self-catering accommodation businesses being targeted. So make sure you look out for our warnings updates posted by us on www.stmem.com and if you suspect a fraud please do let us know, we can give you advice and also we can share the warning with others.

"Fraudsters are always on the lookout for new opportunities, making full use of the internet with clever and unscrupulous scams," said ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer.

So how do you know a booking or enquiry is legitimate? There are a number of giveaways:-

Check for the use of correct English, spelling and grammar.

Are they offering a significant up-front payments, or even an overpayment – only to ask you to refund part of it.

Do the names sound correct – many overseas fraudsters create some very odd names indeed.

Do their contact details check out (name, address, email etc) – Google their details and see whether they can be found.

Never give out your bank details to anyone you don’t know.

Only make refunds when you are sure the money you have received has cleared this can actually take a number of days so do check with your bank.

If the booking is too good to be true – it probably is!

Hotels need to look out for the Flash Harry – he will give the appearance of being a high roller, ordering the best of everything, may even tip all the staff excessively but he will leave you with the bill.

Only give credit to customers you know and trust – so take a credit card or advance payments from people you don’t know and make sure they stay in credit with you. Legitimate guests understand this and don’t usually object to being asked.

Not all frauds relate to bogus customers, so watch out for business directory or advertising scams too. A Google search can help identify these too.

If in doubt don’t and always trust your instincts.

Finally let us know if you suspect a fraud and we will give you advice on what to do.

If you think you have been a victim yourself you can notify:-

Victims should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or register via www.actionfraud.police.uk

Or contact your local trading standards office via https://www.gov.uk/find-local-trading-standards-office


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