Belfast holidaymaker conned out of £900 in booking scam
A Belfast hospital worker lost £900 after they were scammed while trying to book accommodation on Airbnb for a trip to Amsterdam with friends.
The holidaymaker had gone on the popular website that allows property owners across the world to advertise spare accommodation which visitors can rent out for short term use.
The woman viewed details and photographs of an apartment in Amsterdam and then contacted the host by email. A price was agreed for the rent of the apartment for three nights.
However, payment should have been made via the website but the consumer responded to a fake method of payment email that came from the host - not the website.
Unknown to the victim they made a bank transfer “offsite”.
It was only when they didn’t get a receipt that the consumer suspected there was a problem.
The website later confirmed that payment had not been properly conducted through their correct business channels. The consumer’s money is lost and the accommodation, like the host, was bogus.
Trading Standards Service (TSS) has issued a warning saying this incident highlights how "scammers are targeting unsuspecting people by using increasingly sophisticated and manipulative tactics".
It was the first time the consumer had used the website and they had innocently told this to the host. This facilitated the scam. The consumer had no reason to suspect they were being duped when they were sent false payment details.
Bill Malloy from TSS, said: “Ingenuity knows no bounds when it comes to fleecing consumers of their money. With the internet, scammers and victims don’t meet face to face. The scammer can be anywhere in the world. Do not be rushed into sending off money to someone you do not know, especially by bank transfer. As a safeguard, try and use a credit card or debit card to make payment.”
Consumers who feel that they are a victim of a scam or suspect a scam should contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262 or alternatively visit Consumerline website at http://www.consumerline.org