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Holidaymakers heading to Portrush scammed out of hundreds of pounds

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Portrush

Holidaymakers flocking to the North Coast have been warned about fraudsters duping unsuspecting social media users.

At least 20 people have fallen victim to a Facebook Marketplace scam which first came to light in May.

Tricksters have been using fraudulent images of legitimate holiday accommodation to reel in money from visitors seeking somewhere to stay in Donegal.

However, police are aware of a similar scam which has cost people looking for rentals in Portrush hundreds of pounds.

“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,” a PSNI spokesperson explained.

“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.

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“The result is the victim is left out of pocket and hopes of a dream getaway dashed.”

People trying to book a break in Northern Ireland have also been caught out.

“Police are also aware of a similar-type scam operating online with four reports made in relation to bogus holiday accommodation in Portrush,” a PSNI spokesperson added.

“Victims have paid deposits of between £100 and £200. Similar to the Donegal scam, these victims hear nothing from the scammer once deposits are paid.

“Again, they’ve been swindled and their hopes for a coastal break scuppered.”

Police are encouraging anyone who believes they've fallen victim to either of these scams, and have not reported it, to do so now.

Chair of Scamwise NI Partnership, PSNI Superintendent Gerard Pollock issue this warning.

"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.

“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 and, if you're booking a flight, check to see it's approved by Atol.

"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. If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is."

If you have been a victim of a scam, report it to police on 101, to your bank immediately, online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040.


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