MORE than 2,000 British holidaymakers have been victims of an online holiday rental scam, it has been revealed.
Despite countless stories in the media, a letter seen by the Olive Press from UK’s Action Fraud, confirms that the number is rising, despite the conviction of 30 fraudsters.
According to the fraud investigation team, the number of fake websites is growing and it is very difficult to police.
In the letter, sent to a victim, a detective, writes: “The crime that you have reported is one of now over 2000 such reports we have received.”
He added: “In most cases, by the time we are notified of the crime the funds that you have transferred will have already been transferred to other accounts and lost to withdrawals.”
The detective confirmed that the shakedown is usually run by foreign criminals who travel to the UK to open ‘several hundred’ bank accounts, many of them within London.
Email addresses, IP addresses and telephone numbers are all either outside the UK or can’t be traced.
As soon as one account is uncovered, the gang close it down and open another, with the Metropolitan Police now investigating under Operation Arad.
However, despite convicting 30 fraudsters, and jailing some for up to five years, an Action Fraud spokesperson admits the scale of the fraud is causing problems.
“Unfortunately, because of the huge resource implication, it is not possible to investigate individual offences and update individual victims,” the letter says.
Investigating officers have linked the offences to emails using the names Lucy or Amy.
The Olive Press has exposed up to a dozen fake websites marketing properties around Mallorca and the Spanish mainland.
Many of the sites have now been shut down, after we appealed to Google or their web hosts.