COVID travel ban sees 70% decline in holiday cyber fraud

COVID travel ban sees 70% decline in holiday cyber fraud

Victim losses in the UK still amounted to £2.2 million in lasty financial year

Action Fraud received 1,907 reports of holiday and travel-related fraud in the 2020-21 financial year – a drop of more than 70% year-on-year.

The national reporting centre for fraud and cyber-crime said the decline was predicted because travel was banned for large periods of the year due to the Covid crisis.

But it said losses by victims still totalled £2.2 million during this time – an average loss of £1,242 per victim.

Action Fraud has launched a national awareness campaign to remind the public to think twice before handing over their money and personal information when booking holidays.

Last year, criminals targeted unsuspecting holidaymakers booking airline tickets (56%) and holiday accommodation (29%). Almost three quarters of victims were aged between 19 to 50 years old (73%).

Almost a third (32%) of reports stated the victim had contact with the suspect after they responded to an approach, or advertisement, on a social media platform. Out of these reports, Facebook was the most common platform (62%) where victims were defrauded.

Online booking platforms, such as Airbnb and, were mentioned in almost 10% of reports made.

Furthermore, 7% of those who made reports fell victim to suspects impersonating legitimate travel companies, including clone comparison websites, airline websites and holiday accommodation websites.

In some cases, victims searched for flight tickets online and have found a website they believe to be the company’s genuine website. In other cases, victims have used what they believe to be legitimate flight comparison websites to search for flights.

Some victims only became aware that they had been the victim of fraud when they arrived at the airport and were unable to check in.

Action Fraud urges the public to check if a company is an Abta member or Atol holder.

It also says, wherever possible, they should pay by credit card.

Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud, said: “Criminals are increasingly using more sophisticated ways to trick their victims, which is why it’s important that we all do our research when booking a holiday and making travel arrangements. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”