Social media caravan park bookers fall victim to fraud

Dozens of consumers who paid for holidays at static caravan parks via social media have discovered the real owner knew nothing about their bookings.

Fraudsters using fake identities booked families into caravans which they do not own and took the money, BBC Scotland reported.

Haven, which runs the Craig Tara site near Ayr in Scotland, said it has introduced state-of-the-art software that targets and reporst suspicious pages and listings across social media sites.

A statement said: “Whilst we have only experienced a relatively small number of people who have been duped into making fraudulent bookings, we are committed to proactively targeting these sites where we can.”

Haven advised customers to only book through “trusted channels” such as official websites, Abta travel agents or affiliated third parties.

It said: “We would urge customers not to attempt to make bookings through social media channels.”

A Facebook spokesman said: “Ensuring that people have a safe and positive experience when they use Facebook is our number one priority. This is why we have easy ways for everyone to report content and profiles that they suspect may break our Community Standards.

“Our global team of reviewers provide 24/7 cover around the world to ensure we can respond to these reports as quickly as possible.”

Jane Clark, from Stevenston in Ayrshire, booked a bank holiday weekend at the Craig Tara site and paid £180 plus a £50 deposit.

She said: “It was a last-minute thing and after a look on Facebook I saw an advert.”

She sent messages to the Facebook profile and arranged to transfer money to a bank account.

Clark was told to pick up the keys from the holiday park reception at 6pm on the day.

Her son noticed messages on the social media site warning that the holiday offer was a scam.

Clark tried to send further messages to the woman with whom she had booked but was “blocked” and received no reply.

Chief Inspector Scott Tees, a cyber-crime prevention officer for Police Scotland, warned that the problem had become more widespread.

He said the police investigated cases that were brought to them but admitted it was often difficult to catch the people involved.

“They see an offer online that is very appealing to them, then they would book that with the best intentions, and this is what people are preying on,” he said.

He advised people to take a step back if a holiday looked “too cheap” and ask “is this genuine?”.