Fake caravan scams on the rise as fraudsters prey on staycationers

Caravan fraud has doubled as criminals have hunted down “staycationers” trying to weather the cost of living crisis by holidaying in the UK.

Holiday fraud has risen by a third since April last year, according to Lloyds Bank, with scams linked to fake caravan bookings up more than 100 per cent.

The average caravan scam victim lost £374 as scammers took advantage of households booking trips in the UK to keep costs down and avoid complex Covid travel requirements and cancellations.

“Shambolic” delays at the passport office have also forced thousands to cancel plans for an overseas holiday, and many will try to book a last-minute domestic trip. Airlines have also grounded flights due to ongoing staff shortages, which has messed up summer holiday plans.

Paul Charles, of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said many customers were out of practice booking international trips after two years of travel restrictions, leaving them vulnerable to scammers.

“They were also confused by the myriad of travel changes related to Covid and what documents might be needed to confirm a trip,” he said. “As a result, it has become easier for scammers to obtain vital personal information from consumers who are desperate for help or advice booking their trip.”

It was not only caravan scams that cost holidaymakers dearly. Travelers who fell victim to fake flight booking scams lost the most, an average of £2,955, after scams of this type rose by 13 per cent over the past year.

Reports of hotel booking fraud rose 18 per cent, with criminals stealing an average of £1,231 each time, while victims of package holiday fraud, which rose 17 per cent, lost £2,342.

Liz Ziegler of Lloyds Bank, which collected the data, warned scammers they plan to “cash” in a spate of bookings expected this summer.

“Now that most of the pandemic restrictions have ended, many of us will be looking forward to a more traditional summer holiday this year,” she said. “But with demand soaring and prices soaring, potential vacationers can’t afford to be on their guard when hunting for the best deals.”

Travel fraud often starts on social media or search engines, with criminals posing as legitimate companies offering vacation deals. Lloyds warned scammers who attacked victims on legitimate websites with fake accommodation listings and convinced them to transfer cash directly to their bank accounts instead of paying through the official means.

Ms. Ziegler advised travelers to book directly through trusted websites or travel agents, not to follow social media links and pay by debit or credit card for more protection. Requests to send money via bank transfer should set off alarm bells, she said. Fake caravan scams on the rise as fraudsters prey on staycationers

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