Travel Fraud on the Rise


According to a report compiled by the City of London Police's National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, in 2015, the amount of money lost to travel cheats increased by a whopping 425 percent. The 4,910 cases of holiday booking fraud represented £11.5 million/USD $16,419,831, the most that was ever recorded.

When, what, and who?

The report showed a marked upsurge of reported fraud in the summer months and in December. The December uptick signifies thieves targeted people booking flights home for the holidays at the last minute.

Though most fraud is related to the sale of airline tickets, there has also been an increase in the number of owner accounts being hacked into on popular home-sharing websites as well. The most commonly targeted population group were those aged 30 to 49, many of whom had young families.

Sadly, the average loss was almost £3,000/USD$4245. Due to their methods of payment, the majority of victims had no way of getting their money back. As if the financial loss weren’t enough, 44 percent of victims said the fraud also had a significant impact on their health.


Most common types of fraud

Holiday accommodation. Fraudsters conned vacationers by setting up fake websites, hacking into legitimate accounts, and posting fake advertisements on websites and in social media. Stay with reputable websites, like and, and you can avoid this type of fraud.

Airline tickets. Customers believed they were booking flights on legitimate websites and received fake tickets or they paid for a ticket that never arrived. Flights to Nigeria, India, and Pakistan were particularly targeted in 2015. Book directly with the airlines to ensure authenticity and to help with rebooking in case of bad weather or mechanical difficulties.

Sports and religious trips. In 2016, police expect that both the European Football Championships in France and the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will be magnets for these thieves.

Timeshares and holiday clubs. This form of fraud is particularly expensive for victims with average losses between £9,000/USD$12660 and £35,000/USD$49,233 each, accounting for 26 percent of the total reported amounts lost.


Expect more fraud challenges

With the easy access to technology and the widespread use of the Internet we may expect to see more of all kinds of fraud. As competition for airline seats and hotel rooms heats up, travelers will continue to seek ways to save money, opening tremendous opportunities for fraud.  A word to the wise: “If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is”. Find ways to travel safely   

Special Thanks to Travel Mole for their coverage of this important topic.

From "The Herman Trend Alert," by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc."


Joyce Gioia is a Strategic Business Futurist concentrating on workforce and workplace trends. Joyce is President and CEO of The Herman Group, a firm serving a wide range corporate, trade association and governmental clients on an international basis.

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