A new report compiled by Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, with ABTA a campaign partner, has revealed that in 2018 some 5,000 UK holidaymakers were left out of pocket by more than £7 million in travel-related scams, an increase of £300,000 year on year.

The victims lost an average of £1,380, with Spain and France among the destinations most commonly affected.

More than half of the crimes related to the sale of airline tickets, with scammers particularly targeting those visiting family and friends in Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

The next most common fraud, at 25%, concerned the sale of accommodation, such as payments to stay in luxury villas which either don’t exist or were being offered without the knowledge of the legitimate owner.

Said ABTA’s chief executive Mark Tanzer: “ABTA sees at first hand the damage caused by travel fraudsters after customers find out their much-anticipated holiday or trip to visit family and friends does not actually exist.”

He added that fraudsters are using “increasingly sophisticated methods to target destinations” and at times of year when demand is high and availability is limited.

Action Fraud, ABTA and online safety website Get Safe Online have published guidance on how to try and avoid becoming a victim of holiday fraud.

Key tips include looking for whether the agent is an International Air Transport Association (IATA) licence holder when booking airline tickets. When it comes to accommodation, travellers should check that web addresses are legitimate, do their own research to ensure the company is credible and never pay directly into a private individual’s account.


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