Convicted fraudster Johnny Pollard has been accused of duping would-be holidaymakers out of tens of thousands of pounds.
Greater Manchester Police confirmed it had launched an investigation into a travel-related fraud after Travel Weekly spoke to 12 complainants claiming they booked holidays with Pollard which later turned out to be bogus.
They were each offered bargain-priced trips worldwide. After making bookings by email and phone and transferring cash to a bank account, complainants were sent invoices and itineraries appearing to confirm their holiday.
All the complainants say Pollard, a former director of On the Beach and commercial manager of Bookable Holidays, had been recommended by friends or acquaintances who had booked holidays but had yet to realise they had been defrauded.
Some said they were later told their trip had been cancelled. Others discovered no booking for them had been made when they contacted airlines or hotels. Refunds are believed to have been paid to some.
The alleged offences are said to have occurred between January and May 2017.
Invoices seen by Travel Weekly include the company name iDate Ltd, for which John Pollard is registered as an officer on the Companies House website.
Pollard, who formerly sat on Abta’s membership committee, was a rising star in travel until in 2011 he received a 12-week suspended sentence after admitting keeping almost £6,000 that had been paid for bookings and was due to Bookable Holidays.
One complainant of the latest alleged scam, Kevin Schofield, said he lost £5,000 after booking three holidays, including a trip to New York to celebrate his engagement.
Another, Sean McKenzie, said he paid £5,200 for a trip to Australia to see his dying father, but that when he tried to provide passport details to Emirates he found no booking existed.
Another, Jayne Simpson, received a letter from iDate Ltd two days before she was due to travel to Lanzarote informing her that her holiday had been cancelled due to “issues beyond its control” with one of its suppliers.
A Facebook group called ‘JP Theft and Fraud’ was set up for alleged victims. It has 40 members.
Greater Manchester Police said a “full investigation is under way”, but did not name a suspect or the number of alleged offences it was investigating.
A spokeswoman for the force said: “We can confirm that we have received reports of travel fraud, involving a service which claimed to arrange flights and accommodation for trips abroad.
“The trip would then either be ‘cancelled’ or those using the service would receive fake tickets.”
Pollard denied any allegations of fraud when contacted by Travel Weekly in July and was not contactable this week.
At a glance: Travel fraud probe
• Twelve complainants allege Johnny Pollard took their money for holidays which later did not materialise.
• Customers were issued with invoices and travel itineraries appearing to confirm their booking, but would later find out their holiday was “cancelled” or no booking had been held in their name.
• One complainant lost £5,200 after paying for a trip to Australia that was not booked.
• Greater Manchester Police confirmed a “full investigation” was under way into “a report of travel fraud, involving a service which claimed to arrange flights and accommodation for trips abroad” which would be cancelled or were fake. The force did not reveal the identity of any suspect or the number of alleged offences.
More: Court sentences Johnny Pollard for fraud [Dec 2011]
Johnny Pollard charged with fraud [Nov 2011]
Pollard given suspended jail sentence [Dec 2011]
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