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Holidaymakers warned about villa scam risks

Sky News logo Sky News 15/01/2019 Lucia Binding, news reporter

a group of people sitting at a beach: Holidaymakers have been warned about villa scams © Getty Holidaymakers have been warned about villa scams Holidaymakers looking to beat the January blues have been warned to watch out for villa scams which can result in victims losing thousands of pounds.

Barclays said that over a third (37%) of villa scams result in losses of between £1,000 and £5,000 after analysing its own data.

Its figures come from customers who have reported such scams directly to Barclays.

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Holiday villa scams involve criminals hijacking the details of overseas villas, or using fake details, to trick unsuspecting holidaymakers into transferring them money.

Barclays' research found that in 59% of reported cases, the victims were women.

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More than a third (36%) of victims were aged 30 to 44 years old.

Ross Martin, Barclays head of digital safety, said: "Trying to escape those January blues may seem like an appealing prospect, but fraudsters are preparing to take advantage of sun seekers at this time of year.

"We must all be aware of the risks and make sure we are carrying out proper safety checks to ensure our online security and enjoy a scam-free holiday."

a sign on the side of a building: Barclays' research found that in 59% of reported cases, the victims were women © Getty Barclays' research found that in 59% of reported cases, the victims were women As well as looking at its own data on villa scams between April and October 2017, Barclays also surveyed more than 2,000 consumers.

It found that more than half of people (55%) said they would not be put off booking a holiday even if it seemed "too good to be true".

Around 14% said they would still book holiday accommodation despite knowing there was a risk of being scammed, and a quarter (26%) would be prepared to put themselves at risk in the hope of bagging a summer bargain.

Barclays also found that 43% would not hear alarm bells if they were asked to pay for a holiday via bank transfer.

Less than half of the people in the survey, around 45%, would check their booking is with a member of a consumer protection scheme trade body, such as Abta, leaving them susceptible to having less protection if something goes wrong.

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People who are tricked into transferring their money to a fraudster generally risk never seeing their cash again, as the bank was acting on their instructions.

Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive said that the cost to victims is not just financial, and that this type of crime causes "very real disappointment and emotional distress."

Barclays have offered some tips for staying safe while booking holidays, such as doing research on the advertised villa as well as an internet search on the location.

It also advises customers to be wary of paying by bank transfer and looking for companies that have a real location and real phone numbers.

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