Norfolk company director warns others after being caught out in holiday scam
PUBLISHED: 07:43 15 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:53 16 July 2018
Archant Norfolk 2018
A Norfolk company director says he was left feeling “numb” after being caught out in an online holiday scam.
Warren Munday, from Stratton Strawless, near Norwich, booked a 10-day family trip to Fuerteventura to celebrate his partner’s 50th birthday.
Using what he thought was a reputable holiday website, he booked a four-bed villa with a swimming pool for £1,700.
But on May 30 – a month before the 53-year-old was due to go on holiday – he realised something was wrong.
The website he had booked accommodation through disappeared, and the phone numbers he had been calling went dead.
Mr Munday said: “I emailed the company to make sure everything was okay, but the email bounced back, which I thought was a bit strange. I started panicking a bit, and when I put in the website address it had gone.”
Mr Munday, who runs Birchwood Energy, booked the property in February through a website which no longer exists.
Several online reviews suggest other people have had similar experiences when using the same website.
“You are just numb when you find out what has happened,” Mr Munday said. “I never thought I would fall for that type of thing.”
He ended up paying a further £2,600 for a new villa as the flights had already been booked.
The holiday, which was from June 29 to July 9, was for himself, his partner Sarah Cropley, their two children, grandchild, and son’s girlfriend.
Mr Munday said he wanted to share his experience in order to warn others.
It comes as Action Fraud revealed that scammers stole £6.7m from 4,700 holidaymakers in 2017.
The service, which is run by the City of London Police, confirmed his case was being assessed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.
It advised people to carry out thorough reviews online to check if a company is legitimate.
Mr Munday said he paid for the villa via a bank transfer through Barclays.
A spokesman for Barclays said: “When we are alerted to any fraudulent activity on a customer’s account we will investigate as a matter of urgency, which is what we are doing in this case,” the spokesman said.
How to spot a scam when booking a holiday
Action Fraud says there are several warning signs people can look out for when booking a holiday online.
• Being contacted “out of the blue” by a travel agent or company you have never spoken to before, offering a holiday at a low price.
• The details of a property or hotel on offer look suspicious, or independent website reviews are not favourable or do not exit.
• Being asked to pay using a bank transfer or cash. Action Fraud suggests paying by credit or debit card for extra protection.
How it happens
Action Fraud says fraudsters use fake online adverts and make bogus calls offering very cheap rates to lure victims in.
They may steal images of hotels or rented apartments from other travel sites and pass them off as their own.
Often, victims are told to pay in cash or via a bank transfer, which can be difficult to trace and is not refundable.
To report a fraud, call 0300 123 2040