Beware Sunshine Scams

You’ve packed your beach towel. And your bucket and spade. Yippee.

But your holiday doesn’t exist and now your miserable again.

We’re urging awareness of holiday fraud.

Action Fraud reported 151 frauds involving airline tickets since January 2012. Over a 100 of these occurred from April to June this year.

Airline ticket fraud involves fraudulent websites claiming to be authorised airline ticket agents promising cheap deals. Fraudsters buy the tickets on behalf of consumers before cancelling them once the airline has issued the tickets.

Holiday fraud also involves selling fictitious vacations, tempting victims with low prices. In reality, the holiday doesn’t exist, or the victim only gets part of what they’ve purchased.

Particularly vulnerable are those seeking online bargains. A Get Safe Online survey found almost 1 in 3 of web users who book holidays online do not confirm the authenticity of travel providers before handing over payment details.

Fraudsters exploit the trustworthy perception of the travel industry. polled 1,500 UK residents asking them who they trusted most when making a transaction. Over a third ‘mostly trusted’ a hotel receptionist when taking debit card details over the phone, and 39% trusted a travel agent when making a payment to them. Car dealers, by contrast, enjoyed the trust of just 11% of the survey.

We advise trippers to:

  • Verify the holiday company’s name and business address. Utilise 4.5 million business listings on to check the company exists. Read the business’s company credit report. Company credit reports on detail county court judgements; legal notices that a company owes money.
  • Research the names of other company directors, and find out if they’re involved in numerous or defunct companies. Discover when the company was set up and check the companies’ filing history. If accounts have been filed late or not all, something might be amiss. Company credit reports will also tell you if a company has changed its name.  If it’s reinvented itself several times ask yourself why.

Dominic Blackburn, product director of says:

“Don’t assume an advert is genuine just because the website is. Research the property or hotel you’re booking – verify that the address exists through web searches and online maps. Check the individual the selling you the holiday. Is the person who they say they are? Access our 300 million UK edited electoral roll records to match a name with an address.”

    To avoid air ticket fraud people should:

    • Beware of any ticket agent that claims not to accept bank payments or claims problems with card payment functions.
    • Avoid buying e-tickets from classified websites.
    • Use a credit card, which in most cases, provides payment protection.
    • Always check the ticket agent is accredited by regulatory bodies such as the International Air Transport Association IATA. If in doubt, you should contact the airline that should be able to confirm the agent is legitimate.

    Anyone who thinks they have fallen victim to fraud should report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.