HomeBussinessScam alert as holidaymakers warned to beware copycat websites offering bargain basement...

Scam alert as holidaymakers warned to beware copycat websites offering bargain basement deals

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The figure of €98.6m is up 16.4pc on 2022 levels, according to FraudSmart, the awareness initiative led by BPFI.

BPFI is now urging people to be vigilant when booking travel and accommodation or making holiday-related purchases this summer.

The group pointed to potential signs of a scam, including “unbelievable” holiday deals shared in fake emails or social media advertisements, as well as copycat websites designed to look like legitimate platforms or existing brands.

BPFI called on consumers to visit official travel websites to check a bargain, rather than clicking links directly on emails or advertisements.

It also pointed to an example of one consumer who booked a trip through a popular website and received confirmation via email.

However, the consumer received another email two days later claiming to be from the booking website that claimed the payment for the reservation had not gone through.

The email contained direct information from his booking. However, there was a typo in the email address and the link within it then redirected the consumer to a fraudulent site. This occurred as a result of the hotel’s own email system being compromised.

BPFI also warned consumers to avoid paying through bank transfers because these are harder to trace and recover if a purchase turns out to be a scam.

However, BPFI’s head of financial crime, Niamh Davenport, said fraudsters were opting for more complex and deceptive methods to gain access to debit and credit card details.

“Watch out for copycat websites offering holiday accommodation and packages that closely mimic a legitimate site or well-known company brand, but may have subtle differences in the website name and often have spelling errors,” she said. “These sites aim to steal your card details and personal information for fraudulent activities.”

Card fraud accounted for 95pc of fraudulent transactions last year and represented around 36pc of gross fraud losses.

This rise in card fraud comes as card use soared last year. The Central Bank of Ireland recorded a 28.8pc rise in debit and credit payments across the year. Fraudulent card payments were up by 8.2pc in the same period, according to FraudSmart data.

It also found that other types of fraud, while accounting for a lower volume of the total, resulted in higher average losses.

This included unauthorised electronic transfers, which represented 3pc of the volume last year, but accounted for 34pc of all losses.

This type of fraud, which is also known as account takeover, happens when someone makes a payment through online banking, but without permission from the account holder. It typic­ally occurs when sensitive information is lost or stolen, such as an account number or a PIN.

Just over €18m was stolen from consumers and businesses as a result of authorised push payment (APP) fraud. This occurs when an account holder is tricked into sending money directly into an account that is controlled by a fraudster. This is typically associated with an investment or romance scam.

This type of fraud increased sharply last year, with the number of cases rising 42.5pc.

The value of these transactions jumped 82.2pc across the year. However, it accounted for just 1pc of fraudulent transactions.

FraudSmart reported that this type of fraud also led to 18pc of the losses recorded last year.

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