In Depth

How to make sure you don't fall victim to £12m holiday scam

Fraudsters are using tactics similar to those used to intercept payments in the housing market

It's the time of year when many of us are booking our summer holidays. Watch out though, scammers see this as a time of rich pickings with ample opportunities to part us from our cash.

The latest scam sees criminals interrupting your booking process and stealing the money you intend to use to pay for your accommodation. It is a scam that has been prevalent in property transactions for a while, but now the scammers have started targeting holiday bookings as well.

What happens is fraudsters infect your computer with malicious software via a virus. This allows them to spy on your emails. They then wait until you are in the process of booking your holiday.  For many of us that now involves booking a private apartment or villa, which could mean the owner of the accommodation sends you an email containing their bank details so you can transfer the booking costs.

When fraudsters see that email, they intercept it and change the bank details to their own account. You receive an email that looks completely legitimate and transfer the money only for it to never be seen again. It's a scam that has ripped off a lot of people during house purchases when fraudsters intercept emails containing bank details for conveyancing costs - or even where to send the cash when a house is sold.

Fraudsters managed to steal £11.5m from holidaymakers in 2015, a huge 425 per cent rise from £2.2m the year before, according to figures from the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. The number of cases of holiday booking fraud has also increased to 4,910 last year.

The scam doesn't just target people making a holiday booking, as in many cases you pay via a secure website such as AirBnB or Holidaylettings.co.uk, some people have become victims when emailing with the owner of accommodation in order to get their damage deposit back after their holiday.

If you are the victim of holiday booking fraud there is a good chance you will never see your money again, which can run into thousands of pounds. This is because it often takes a while for the scam to be revealed. It will only be when one party realises the money hasn’t ended up where it was meant to be, then investigates and finds out what has gone wrong.

Banks are obliged to 'ring-fence' money that is suspected of being paid fraudulently while an investigation takes place, but often by the time the fraud has been discovered the criminals have already withdrawn the cash.

If you are moving large amounts of money to a new payee protect yourself by only transferring a small amount at first. Once you have confirmed that the money has successfully arrived in the correct account you can transfer the balance.

Also, make sure you use strong passwords on your email accounts in order to make things difficult for fraudsters.

Recommended

Could Labour solve the cost-of-living crisis?
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer
Today’s big question

Could Labour solve the cost-of-living crisis?

How to save money on gas and electricity
Gas hob
Expert’s view

How to save money on gas and electricity

What is Don’t Pay UK?
Energy bill
Fact file

What is Don’t Pay UK?

Headers, savings and costly chips
Jordan Henderson heads the ball
Podcasts

Headers, savings and costly chips

Popular articles

Why The Satanic Verses is still controversial
Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses
Getting to grips with . . .

Why The Satanic Verses is still controversial

Is World War Three on the cards?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Is World War Three on the cards?

Inside Adelaide Cottage: Prince William and Kate’s new home ‘away from prying eyes’
William and Kate
In Depth

Inside Adelaide Cottage: Prince William and Kate’s new home ‘away from prying eyes’

The Week Footer Banner