Warning issued after reports of Donegal holiday accommodation scam 4 months ago

Warning issued after reports of Donegal holiday accommodation scam

There have been 20 reports of the scam to date.

Police in Northern Ireland have issued a warning after a number of people reported being duped as a result of a Facebook Marketplace holiday accommodation scam.

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Having first come to light in May of this year, the PSNI has said the scam involves the fraudulent use of images of genuine holiday accommodation in Donegal to reel in unsuspecting victims.

"The criminals, using a number of different names, have placed adverts on a Facebook Marketplace for a holiday home that victims have booked and paid deposits of between £100 to £500 for," the police warning reads.

"They believe they're paying for a holiday rental in County Donegal but, in reality, they’ve been swindled."

Once the victim has transferred the funds, the scammer blocks them on social media, preventing any further communication. As such, the victim is left out of pocket with their hopes of a dream getaway dashed.

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To date, the PSNI has received 20 reports of the scam, but it is believed others may have fallen victim to it.

The Northern Irish police have also said they are aware of a similar type of online scam with four reports made in relation to bogus holiday accommodation in Portrush in Antrim.

PSNI Superintendent Gerard Pollock has warned 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.

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"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.

"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 [Association of British Travel Agents] and, if you're booking a flight, check to see it's approved by ATOL [Air Travel Organisers' Licensing].

"Never 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."

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Pollock added that if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

The PSNI is encouraging anyone who believes they have fallen victim to either of these scams and has not reported it, to do so now.

Main image via Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie