Travel Agent Fraud

Travel agent fraud can either be carried out by the travel agent itself or against the travel agent by individuals or organised crime gangs. Sadly the first occurrence is on the increase although, I use travel agent in the looses sense of the word because in reality they rarely provide any travel services.

In times gone by it was common place for a travel agent who was usually a member of either ABTA or ATOL to run their agency as normal then at some point in the year, usually before a peak period to run off with all the money. The reason why money was plentiful, often in the millions was because holidays booked were not arranged or suppliers not paid.

Usually the first time either ABTA or ATOL became aware of a problem with the agency was when they received the first call from a concerned customer stating they had not received their tickets and they were unable to contact the agent they had booked with. Sadly in most cases customers would have no holiday and would have to rely on the timely process of making a claim with ABTA or ATOL to get their money back.

In recent times fraud carried out by travel agents has gone online and it is common place for the company to have no official affiliation with a trade body, although their website may suggest otherwise. Consumers are attracted to the company usually via Google and are drawn in with the carrot of a cheap deal. By the time the consumer is aware that they have been defrauded the website they booked with has disappeared and the only record of the fraud appears in forums where angry consumers air their displeasure in being ripped off.

As quick as an website is removed a new website pops up with a slightly different name ready and waiting for its next victims.