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Travellers warned over holiday fraud

07 April 2016 08:30

Rio de Janeiro could be the target of travel fraud this summer

Rio de Janeiro could be the target of travel fraud this summer

British travellers are being warned of the expensive dangers of holiday booking frauds following a sharp rise in the cost of such crime.

ABTA reports that tourists were swindled out of £11.5 million last year compared to £2.2 million the year before - a dramatic hike of 425%.

Airline tickets are the fraudsters' most profitable hunting ground. Accommodation-share sites are also common targets for the criminals who hack into owner accounts.

A traveller typically loses nearly £3,000 in each incident.

How to stay safe

ABTA is partnering with Get Safe Online and the City of London Police to issue a six-point plan to thwart the fraudsters.

They say:

• check to see that a website address is valid. Slight changes may include something as little but as important as going to a .org suffice from a one

• do your homework by checking holidaymakers' reviews

• look out for logos to see if a company is ABTA-approved

• check the paperwork and insist on documentation

• always avoid paying money directly into the owner's bank account

• seek expert advice

Guard against unexpected surprises

The sheer scale of these frauds - there were 4,910 in 2015 - underscores the need for trusted travel insurance to guard against unpleasant holiday surprises.

This can cover customers against losses including delayed or damaged luggage, missed or delayed departure and cancelled flights.

Most common holiday booking frauds

• holiday accommodation: con artists develop bogus sites, hack into bona fide accounts and post non-legitimate ads over social media and websites

• airline tickets: customers are hoodwinked into thinking they have booked a ticket, but it fails to turn up. Nigeria, Pakistan and India are the most common hotspots for this fraud

• religious and sports tourism: limited supply and higher prices makes these a fraudster's dream. People are being warned to be wary with the France-based Euro 2016 football championships and Rio-based Olympics coming up this year

• holiday clubs and timeshares: these can particularly hit duped holidaymakers' bank accounts, ranging from £9,000 to £35,000 for each crime

Victims of holiday booking frauds can report them by ringing 0300 1232040 and ask for Action Fraud.