FRAUDSTERS conned travellers out of £ 11.5 million last year through holiday booking scams, hitting the jackpot with airline tickets, online accommodation, sport and religious trips and timeshares, the last netting the biggest hauls.
The shocking findings come in a new report from leading travel trade body ABTA, the City of London Police and adviser Get Safe Online.
Figures show a rise of 425 per cent in the amount lost to travel crooks - to & pound; 11.5 million last year from & pound; 2.2 million in 2014.
Individually people were conned out of around & pound; 3000 each.
Summer and Christmas time, when people book last-minute flights home, are the peak times for criminals.
The young middle-aged, those in the 30-49 years bracket usually with young families, are the ones most targeted.
Over a year almost 5000 cases of holiday booking fraud were reported to the police.
Tips to avoid being a victim include:
* Checking out the web address is legitimate and not altered by slight changes to the domain name, for example from co.uk to .org
* Searching online a firm's credentials and not relying on just one review
* Ensuring the company belongs to a reputable trade body
* Never paying directly into an owner's bank account or doing a bank transfer (the equivalent of cash so difficult to trace and not refundable)
* Vetting contracts with a solicitor before signing up
* Reporting crime to www.actionfraud.police.co.uk, www.getsafeonline.org
For more details visit http://abta.com/fraud
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