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Holidaymakers warned of travel scam

Published Monday, 26 February 2018

commercial jet taking off

Travellers to the Middle East or Africa are most likely to be targeted by a new flight booking scam.

Our Trading Standards officers issued the warning after receiving information that fraudsters are trying to scam those looking for cheap flights, particularly to long haul destinations.

In most cases, victims book tickets via websites that appear legitimate or via a recognisable ticket broker. Payment is taken by either bank transfer or electronic wire transfer – as opposed to standard card transaction.

However, when the tickets or booking references are received they turn out to be counterfeit. In most cases, the consumer can’t get any communication from the seller or broker and is out hundreds of pounds or more.

Shirley Clelland, Head of the council's Fleet and Environmental Services, said: “While this is a scam that can apply to flights anywhere, travellers to African nations and the Middle East - in particular those who want to travel for public and religious holidays – are being targeted the most.

“We would always urge caution where prices seem particularly low, or where the transaction is not standard. Paying by direct bank transfer is like paying by cash – the money is difficult to trace and is not refundable.

“Always follow the principles of staying safe online by checking website authenticity, looking for reviews, checking for ABTA or ATOL membership and being wary of making a transaction via a third party, especially when first contact has been made via a social media platform.”

Consumers can verify membership of ABTA online at https://abta.com/find-a-member and for ATOL at https://www.caa.co.uk/ATOL-protection

If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040.