BRITISH bridesmaids have said they ‘feel sick’ after losing €2,700 in a luxury villa scam while organising a Marbella hen do.
Talia Tester, 30, and Rachel Smith, 29, from Brighton, were setting up a four-day hen party in the city in September for their friend Anna Harris, 29.
But after the pair picked Villa Siempre Domingo on travel website HomeAway, they ended up paying money to a fraudster.
Talia said: “It was supposed to be an amazing experience but every time someone mentions the hen party I feel sick.
“I was told to send an email to continue the booking and we were directed away from the site.
“HomeAway have told us that because the payment wasn’t made on the site, they aren’t responsible.”
She had received a message through the website from the man posing as the villa’s owner, asking her to wire him the money, which she did.
Talia realised something wasn’t right when she was told by the villa’s real owner ‘this isn’t me’.
She instantly rang HomeAway, who recorded what happened as a ‘scam incident’, and she and Rachel then split the cost between them.
Natwest could not recover the money or track the fraudster, and Anna’s other friends have now booked her an Airbnb villa ahead of her marriage to Oli Draper, 31, in November.
A HomeAway spokesperson said: “Our customer’s safety and security is a key priority and it is very important to us to continuously advise our travellers and partners through our website and via email on how to book and rent their holiday homes safely.
“This is a rare occurrence on the HomeAway platform and every year, millions of travellers book and spend unforgettable holidays in one of the more than 2 million unique places to stay of our partners.”
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