Scamwatch: hotel room fraud
Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.
This week, we take a closer look at a new hotel booking scam that has caught out holidaymakers across the world.
How does it work?
Online travel agent Booking.com, which specialises in hotel rooms and apartments, has been targeted by fraudsters contacting customers who have booked accommodation posing as the hotel or apartment building and requesting a prepayment.
About 10,000 people have received the emails, and the scam has fooled customers from the UK, US, France and the United Arab Emirates into paying up for accommodation before their trips - only to find the money has been stolen by internet crooks.
How can I avoid being caught out?
If you receive a suspicious email from an online travel agent, it is always sensible to double check by emailing the company - on another, official email address or phone number - to check that it is genuine before responding.
This is especially true if the email is a request for payment that you are not expecting or requires you to send money to an unknown bank account.
Booking.com is urging its customers in particular not to respond to any emails asking for prepayment.
I've been defrauded. What should I do?
If you think you have been caught out by the Booking.com scam, the first thing to do is contact the website.
Booking.com has appointed a dedicated security team to support those affected and is refunding all those who have lost money due to the scam.
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