GMP puts the sunblock on holiday fraud with crime prevention advice

GMP puts the sunblock on holiday fraud with crime prevention advice

Are you looking to book a holiday for this summer? Make sure you don’t get caught out with fraud abroad and follow GMP’s top crime prevention advice and beat the holiday blues to potentially save yourself hundreds of pounds.

This week GMP’s Economic Crime Unit are holding a week of action this week (29 January – 5 February 2024), resulting in arrests and action across the force to tackle those involved in economic crimes. Throughout the week, officers and staff in the unit will also be helping the public gain a better understanding of crime prevention advice in relation to fraud to help keep themselves and their money safe this year.

Last week six victims of holiday fraud were reported in the Greater Manchester area, with the average loss being £650.

Officers in GMP’s Economic Crime Unit are out and about working hard within the community and with partner agencies to raise awareness in crime prevention stalls and presentations across the region and working alongside the City of London Police to proactively disrupt and prosecute any offenders of holiday fraud.

Holiday fraud is when you have paid a travel agent or agency, or someone offering short-term lodging for rent online, and then finding out that the holiday you’ve booked doesn’t actually exist.

Detective Sergeant Stacey Shannon of GMP’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “We have reached that time of year, with the weather being cold, that people have started to look for holidays in the summer.

“Our prevention officers, staff and volunteers are out doing everything we can to protect our community from holiday fraud, it is a devastating crime involving hundreds of pounds worth of hard-earned money that is going straight into fraudster’s pockets.

“People save up all year and look forward to holidays abroad and we want to ensure that no one is affected by this crime.

“Ensure you don’t reply to unsolicited emails, texts, social media or calls with holiday offers. Links and attachments in emails may lead to malicious websites or download viruses.

“Book a holiday directly with an airline or hotel, or through a reputable agent. Check whether they’re a member of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).

“If you decide to deal directly with the property owner or a letting agent, ask them questions about the booking, room, location and area and don’t book on websites that don’t have a padlock icon (https) in the address bar, and be extra cautious if you’re asked to pay using bank transfer or cash; pay by credit or with a debit card if you can, this can help the money be recovered if it is in fact a fraudulent deal.

“Spot the signs – something may not be as it seems if you are contacted out of the blue by a travel agent or company you have not contacted or spoken to before, offering you a holiday at price that is much lower than expected.

“If the details, pictures or address of the property or hotel on offer look suspicious, or independent website reviews aren’t favourable or don’t exist.

“You are asked to use bank transfers of cash, instead pay by credit or debit card for extra protection.

“Be vigilant, and as always, if something doesn’t look or feel right, it most likely isn’t.

The Advantage Travel Partnership, which represents a large proportion of the UK’s independent travel agents, said: “It’s crucial that people make sure that when booking their holiday they book it with a reputable agent and that they also ensure that their holiday is financially protected. 

“People can be trusting when it comes to booking their hard-earned trip away and can come unstuck.  We would always advocate that people shop around for the best deal and, where possible, book a package holiday that is ATOL protected, which means that they will get their money back, should anything go wrong.”

If you believe you have been a victim of this type of crime, please report this to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk

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