Fraudsters are stealing images of hotels from other travel websites to sell fake vacations, police are warning.
Scammers are using bogus online ads, bogus sales calls, emails and text messages to offer the public insanely cheap holiday rates, Greater Manchester Police have warned.
The accommodation fraud sweeping the country involves criminals stealing images of hotels or rented apartments from other travel websites and passing them off as their own in an attempt to catch vacationers.
Tourists pay money to make a hotel reservation or reserve some form of accommodation only to find the hotel where the reservation does not exist.
Police advise the public to use an established hotel or reputable travel agency when booking vacation accommodation. Travel agencies must be members of commercial organizations such as ABTA, the Travel Association or the Air Travel Organizers Licensing (ATOL).
Individuals booking independently are encouraged to establish whether they are dealing with the owner or the rental agent and, if dealing with the owner, ask them about the accommodation and the area in detail.
Properties and hotels should also be researched and their addresses verified on web searches and online maps. Agents should also be searched through an online search engine and hotel or accommodation terms and conditions verified.
When paying for accommodation in cash, avoidance and if possible, credit cards should be used to protect payments.
Victims of fraud can visit the Action Fraud website for additional advice.