Holiday scams soar as Britons rush to book summer getaway

Holiday scams soar as Britons rush to book summer getaway

People urged to be vigilant as fake flight and hotel adverts proliferate amid ‘national fraud epidemic’

Britons should take extra care booking their summer getaway as new figures show an increase in online holiday scams, with travellers being cheated out of thousands of pounds by fake flight and hotel adverts.

The number of scams linked to holidays was up by a third in the year to March 2022. Within that, fraud relating to flight bookings was 13% higher than in 2021, with victims, on average, losing £3,000, based on cases being reported to Lloyds Bank.

There was an even bigger rise in the number of scams linked to hotels, up 18%, with consumers typically losing £1,200. Fraud linked to package holidays was also up by a similar amount, with the average loss put at £2,300.

By far the biggest increase came from scams linked to caravan stays, with the number of cases more than doubling. However, the average amount lost in each case was much lower at £374.

The rise in holiday booking fraud is the latest development in what has been described as a national “fraud epidemic”. The end of Covid travel rules has resulted in a dash to book holidays but Liz Ziegler, Lloyds Banking Group’s fraud prevention director, said consumers should “not let their guard down. If it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.”

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Many of the scams started with fake ads on search engines or social media, with victims clicking on a link that appeared to take them to a genuine site. Fraudsters also lurked on real accommodation listing sites before convincing victims to transfer cash directly rather than via the platform. Other tactics include sending offers by email or text, pretending to be from a real company, the report said.

“Scammers are ready to cash in on any last-minute surge in bookings,” Ziegler said. “Book directly with trusted sites or travel agents, avoid following links on social media, and always pay by card for the greatest protection.”

Travellers are advised to seek out holiday firms that offer Abta or Atol protection. Lloyds said the safest way to pay for a holiday was with a debit or credit card. If a site or company wants you to pay another way, such as direct to a bank account or by wire transfer, it could be a scam, and it will be harder for you to get your money back.