The recent court case in Northern Ireland comes a week after ABTA announced a new consumer campaign aimed at raising awareness of the dangers posed by holiday booking fraud.

The Association said new research by the police shows that fraudsters are conning unsuspecting travellers out of thousands of pounds each year or leaving them stranded with nowhere to stay through fake websites, false advertising, bogus phone calls and email scams.

ABTA is partnering with Get Safe Online, Action Fraud and the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau ( NFIB ) on the campaign, which will encourage consumers to take important steps to avoid being defrauded.

The campaign does appear to be concentrating on online fraud, but it is possible, as this Northern Ireland agent has proved, suffer fraud at the hands of a ‘bricks and mortar’ agency.

The accused

  • Kept cash deposits for holidays for herself
  • Wrote ‘1’ in front of amounts made payable to her on customer cheques
  • Changed the amount owed from hundreds to thousands
  • Fraudulently used client credit cards in telephone bookings with operators, such as Royal Caribbean Cruises

So it wasn’t a very sophisticated effort, unlike some online scams.

I spoke to Gillian Edwards from ABTA about this new campaign during the John Guinn Travel Show. Please listen to find out more on how you can . During the show I also discuss the ATOL scheme, which is also important when booking an overseas holiday with flights.

If you are a victim of fraud it is important that you report it to ensure that others do not fall victim to the scam.

  • You can report it to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk
  • Speak to a specialist advisor on 0300 123 2040
  • Contact your credit card issuer if you paid by credit card. As Gillian said, do not pay via money transfer.
  • Finally if you have information on crime and you do not want to speak to the police you can call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Fraud is rare, and by taking the steps suggested by Gillian in the interview you can reduce the chances of becoming a victim.