People opting for cost effective self-catering holidays are being warned to be aware of an increasingly sophisticated holiday lettings scam.
Incidents of bogus holiday accommodation posted on websites have been prevalent in the US and Europe and there is a risk of a threat in the UK in due to the draw of the London Olympic Games this summer.
The warning was issued by holiday rentals company CLC Leisure which owns and lets holiday properties in the US and Europe.
Director Laurence Hicks said: “We are hearing a lot of nightmare stories about unsuspecting holidaymakers who have booked rental accommodation, paid their air fare and arrived at the address only to find that it is occupied by the owner and has never been available for rent.
“This type of scam has been around for a while but is now becoming much more sophisticated. At one time there was simply no holiday. Now fraudsters are now producing very stylish ads and websites featuring real photos of very attractive properties in desirable locations. "They even have telephone numbers that you can call for information and verification. The fact is, however, that photos and details have been copied, probably from an estate agent's website, the telephone number is disposable and there is no property for rent.”
He warned: “Visitors to the UK should be especially careful about bogus holiday accommodation in London leading up to and during the Olympics.”
Hicks urged consumers to book via a reputable agent or operator offering Abta and ATOL protection. Failing that the person or company letting the property should be thoroughly vetted, ideally with bank references that can be verified.
“Only pay by credit card so that there is a chance of recouping your money in the event of something going wrong,” advised Hicks. “If you suspect anything dodgy, report it to your local trading standards officer or the police. And remember the maxim - if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
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