Holiday scam victims speak out as police urge public to be on their guard

Police are urging the public to be on their guard when booking holiday accommodation with an increasing number of victims reporting being duped in scams.

One woman, who was hoping to get some respite with her mother after a tragic year in which they lost six family members.

Berni Campbell said: "I wanted to take my mum away just for a week, somewhere close-by, that we wouldn't have to travel too much, she's in her 70s now. Just kind of to get away from it all.

"I seen a beautiful house on marketplace, that I'm supposed to be in this week..."

A number of people from Northern Ireland have lost money booking bogus holiday homes along the North Coast and in Co Donegal.

Helen Hancock, another scam victim, said: "This guy is very convincing. He is endearing, kind, friendly, thoughtful, considerate - all the things that you would hope somebody would be..."

Holiday rental agent Keith Walls said: "We've had people in tears, you know arriving in at the property just so upset, they've planned this holiday all year."

Police have urged people to be vigilant when considering booking a holiday through social media.

Chair of Scamwise NI Partnership, Police Service of Northern Ireland Superintendent Gerard Pollock is warning others not to be conned.

"As the cost of living increases and more of us are holidaying at home, it's understandable that people go in search of the best deal," he said.

"However, what can appear as a bargain holiday on a social media platform or an online advert, is all too often the start of a scam, which will cost you hundreds of pounds and leave you without that getaway." said Superintendent Pollock.

"It might sound obvious, but take some time to do your research on the company, or person you are booking with. Don't rely on just one website or review. If it's a fake there's a good chance others will write about their experience and some basic internet research will find it.

"Look for the logo, check to see if the company is a member of Abta and, if you're booking a flight, check to see it's approved by Atol."

The officer urged people never to pay by bank transfer.

"The safest way to pay is by credit card and, where at all possible, avoid paying by bank transfer to someone you do not know or have not met in person.

"If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

"If you have been a victim of a scam, report it to police on 101, to your bank immediately, online at or call 0300 123 2040. Information and advice is also available at or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni

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