Action Fraud has received multiple reports from people who have been defrauded after paying for winter holiday accommodation on RightSki.com and ChaletHunter.com.
According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) RightSki.com and ChaletHunter.com were set up by fraudsters using fake details and false information.
The NFIB are proactively taking steps to suspend the websites and virtual phone numbers used by these fraudsters and are warning consumers that they may continue this activity and use alternative websites. Fraudsters can easily set up new pages with different names very quickly.
Victims lost over £60k in total so far
Over a dozen victims who made reports so far state to have lost approximately £60,000 in total with the majority paying by bank transfer, where unfortunately, once money has left an account - little can be done to retrieve this.
The NFIB is also urging any victims who have not yet reported to come forward and report to Action Fraud to assist the police.
How to protect yourself from booking a holiday that doesn’t exist:
- Stay safe online: Check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from .co.uk to .org
- Do your research: Don’t just rely on one review - do a thorough online search to check the company’s credentials. If a company is defrauding people there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experiences, and warnings about the company.
- Look for the logo: Check whether the company is a member of a recognised trade body such as ABTA. You can verify membership of ABTA online, at www.abta.com
- Pay safe: Never pay directly into an owner's bank account. Paying by direct bank transfer is like paying by cash – the money cannot be traced and is not refundable. Where possible, pay by credit card, (or a debit card that offers protection).
- Check paperwork: You should study receipts, invoices and terms and conditions, and be very wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all.
- Use your instincts: Be wary of advertisements showing accommodation at substantially lower prices than the competition.
- Report it – victims should contact Action Fraud. Find out how to here.