As people look at booking last minute skiing holidays for the year, Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) are warning of the threat posed by fraudsters.
In 2017, victims of ski chalet fraud lost a total of £231,875 to fraudsters. This is an average of £2016 per person and an eight percent increase on the year before.
Reports show that fraudsters are selling bogus ski chalet holidays to unsuspecting victims who are paying large deposits for a property. Once they make the payment they never hear from the property agent again.
In some instances, victims will turn up in the mountains to find their chosen chalet does not exist or is being used by other holidaymakers.
The vast majority of people who go on winter sports holidays have a trouble free experience, but for some, problems can occur. Holidaymakers booking their flights, transfers and chalets online through separate suppliers are particularly vulnerable to offers that on the surface appears great value for money, but in reality are a scam.
Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said: “We have seen a rise in the number of ski chalet fraud reports made over the past two years and the impact of falling victim to this type of fraud can be far greater than the financial loss, people can end up missing out on a well-deserved break and left with feelings of distrust which may stop them from booking online in the future. We hope that by raising awareness, people will feel better able to protect themselves
“We recommend that you are thorough when researching a last minute holiday and that you book directly with an airline or hotel, or through a reputable agent. When deciding to deal directly with a property owner or letting agent, be sure to ask them questions about the booking, room, location and area. “We urge anyone who believes they have been a victim of fraud to report the incident to Action Fraud.”
Chief Executive of ABTA, Mark Tanzer, said: “Unfortunately travel is a very attractive area for fraudsters, who are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the way they target the public and ski chalet bookings. As these are often of high value with scarce availability, it is a very lucrative area for them. Look for membership of legitimate travel companies such as ABTA and follow police advice, as well as the general information and tips from Get Safe Online. Travel fraud does not only result in financial losses, the emotional costs can also be severe, with much anticipated holidays or trips to visit loved ones being cancelled at very short notice. Victims often only find out once they’ve arrived in resort that they’ve been ripped off.”
Get free expert advice: For further advice on how to stay safe when booking or researching travel online, go to Get Safe Online.