TIM DREW: Double-check details when booking holidays

Tim Drew
Tim Drew

With the holiday season upon us, the police have issued a warning about a holiday rental scam which has used a number of online marketplaces in order to defraud customers.

The marketplaces include Airbnb, Fotocasta, Idealista, Milanuncios and Enalquilier, which the fraudsters flood with beautiful pictures of apartments at very competitive prices.

The fraudsters then use false emails to swindle their victims, some of whom have lost as much as several thousand pounds.

Police have tracked many of the fraudsters to countries in Eastern Europe and Africa although some are using servers which enable them to evade detection.

Customers are advised to talk directly to the advertisers rather than rely on email or websites, and to double-check every interaction when booking rental properties.

Credible owners will never ask you for copies of your passport or driving licence, and Airbnb will never ask you to pay outside the website via agencies such as Western Union or Moneygram.

Meanwhile, Worthing town centre has recently experienced an upsurge in pickpocketing, with 14 cases reported in March, including one offence committed in the Montague Centre where the victim was a vulnerable middle-aged gentleman.

Two women in particular are suspected – both white, around 5ft 6in, and of slim build. One is around 20 to 30 years old and was wearing a light Burberry-style long jacket with wide horizontal and vertical stripes with a large burgundy scarf and a grey woollen hat. The other is around 20 years old, with long straight hair which fades from darker to lighter towards the tips. She was wearing a black and white chequered scarf and a dark green or blue jacket, dark skinny jeans and dark shoes. She had a dark blue rucksack with a brown emblem on.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police online, quoting serial 961 of 15/03.

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