Holiday cottage scam – beware!

Cottage Scam - Security Camera

Cottage Scam - Security CameraWe have just heard of a scam which nearly got the better of some of our guests, and which other visitors should be aware of. It has the potential to affect all holiday lets, not just large houses, and can arise through enquiries made to landlords via any website.

The way it works is that a fraudster hacks into (and monitors) a landlord’s email account and contacts people that have made enquiries, confirming the dates of their stay and the price. They then provide bank details for you to pay, and you (unknowingly) pay them for the accommodation.

Here are a few tips which may help you to avoid falling fowl of the scam:

1. Be suspicious! A change in tone or writing style could indicate that someone else has taken over.

2. Double check email addresses. Some hackers will send emails from addresses which are very similar but not identical to the actual owner’s/manager’s. Make sure that the address you first contacted is the one that has requested the payment.

3. Foreign bank details, especially for UK properties, are very unlikely to be legitimate. Using a credit card to make the payment is preferable to a bank transfer, but beware of credit card surcharges.

4. If you can find a telephone number, try calling the house directly. You could ask a question like “Where’s the nearest post office?” which would be instantly known by the genuine owner and verifiable on the internet.

Here are some further tips from The Guardian:

The big problem with booking holiday cottages over the web is that you never can be entirely sure you are talking to (and paying) the real owner. Look for those who accept credit cards – a few now do – which is the only way to protect your payment against fraud.

Be wary of homes that look too cheap. Before handing over any money, speak to a real person. Always call, don’t just email. Use the phone number on the holiday rental site.

Check how long the property has been listed. Most listings sites show how long the owner has advertised. The longer, the better, although this didn’t help Cinamon. Be wary if the “owner” offers a discount if the whole bill is paid up front. Most bookings require a deposit, with the balance payable a month or two before the trip. Try to pay in cash when you arrive, although few owners will accept this, for fear of no-shows.

Google the property to confirm your desired holiday home actually exists. See if it’s listed elsewhere under a different owner. Ask for references. As well as reading reviews, ask for references from previous visitors and phone them (if possible).

We take fraud very seriously and are happy to help with any concerns that you may have. Our telephone number is 020 7112 7544.

 

Update 14/02/14: If it helps others avoid the trap, the bank details given in the scam were:

ACCOUNT HOLDER: Miguel V*** L***
ACCOUNT HOLDER ADDRESS: Gran Via ***, Barcelona, 08007, Spain
IBAN: ES57 2100 0722 5401 0087 **43
BANK: CAIXA Bank
SWIFT: CAIXESBBXXX BANK
ADDRESS: Avenida Ntra. Sra. Bellvitge 60, L’Hospitalet De Llobregat, Barcelona, 08900, Spain

and

ACCOUNT HOLDER: Miguel V*** L***
ACCOUNT HOLDER ADDRESS: Gran Via ***, Barcelona, 08007, Spain
IBAN: ES22 2100 3325 1021 0041 **00
BANK: CAIXA Bank
SWIFT: CAIXESBBXXX
BANK ADDRESS: Avenida Ntra. Sra. Bellvitge 60, L’Hospitalet De Llobregat, Barcelona, 08900, Spain

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1 Response

  1. Alice Turner, The Manor House says:

    We’ve just seen messages from this person which is probably a scam, others please beware.

    wallace pakist(country manager)

    Grande Ghana – ro-ro cargo ship

    mailing address;business center floor 5, suit 30“hadzhi dimitar”

    square 8800 sliven bulgaria

    phone:011 359 92 99024/00233269155621

    grandeghana04@gmail.com

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