The latest report from the UK’s cybercrime agency, Action Fraud, into holiday booking scams reveals that criminals are targetting the under-40s.
In 2016, the overall number of reported travel fraud cases was up by nearly 20% year on year to 5,826. The total amount lost to the fraudsters was £7.2 million, an average of nearly £1,200 per person.
While the numbers of reported cases is up compared with last year, the amount of cash lost to the criminals is down significantly. In 2015 the comparable report talked in terms of the losses coming in at £11.5 million, or £3,000 per person.
One interesting addition to the 2016 study is that younger people are being targeted by scammers:
“The two age groups most commonly targeted are those aged 20-29 and 30-39, with older generations less likely to fall victim, particularly those over 50 who are perhaps more wary of “too good to be true” offers.”
As with last year’s report, travel fraudsters do not seem to be doing anything specific to travel – selling (non-existent villa accommodation) via fake websites, asking customers to pay in cash or via bank transfers into private accounts, even offering victims insurance on a product which doesn’t exist.
However, the danger is that the entire online travel ecosystem gets dragged into the “holiday scam” narrative, and, again, the tone of the report is that the internet is somehow to blame for the criminal activity of individuals. “Fraudsters are making full use of the internet to con holidaymakers,” it says.
And it’s not as if “holiday scams” do not take place offline.
Fraud is a serious and sensitive issue in travel, with many different manifestations and applications. Online shoppers – in any vertical, not just travel – need to be alert to the threat and while many continue to ignore the advice of experts, the criminals will continue to exist.
Related reading from Tnooz:
Sabre investigates unathorized access to SynXis payment information (May17)
ABTA website security breach hits 43,000 people (March17)