A Dutch help desk is warning people to be cautious when booking holiday accommodation on the internet. The fraud help desk has received an increasing number of complaints from would-be holidaymakers who have been conned.
The help desk was set up in 2011 with a subsidy from the Security and Justice Ministry. Since then, it has received 130 complaints. The desk has already received 55 complaints in the first four months of this year, while in the whole of 2011 it received 75.
On average, the fraudsters pocketed around 2,500 euros in each case. In one case, however, a person was conned out of 18,000 euros after he invested in a holiday home project in Florida and then paid a conman claiming to be a lawyer to get his money back.
A spokesperson for the help desk says: “I’m not urging people not to book on the internet, but make sure you verify that the organisation or accommodation exists and that you have a guarantee. Be careful, the houses may exist, but may belong to someone else.''
The fraud help desk thinks the reports it receives are just the tip of the iceberg. International gangs are probably behind the fraudulent websites.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide
(The holiday home in the picture is not implicated in this story)