RECENT TYPES OF ACCOMMODATION SCAMS
A number of accommodation providers in Co Down have advised us that they have recently been left out of pocket. A guest called ‘Lisa’ makes a booking for one week because of emergency house repairs and pays in full. She then returns for a few more weeks but at this stage leaves without paying. She usually stays in contact promising payment. One way to prevent this type of scam is to take full payment on arrival or use online booking (ie take full payment at time of booking).
Tourism NI recently received an email from email@example.com looking for “ROOMS IN FEBRUARY 2016”. This email followed the typical format of scam emails ie it asked for 3 double rooms for 6 guests for 10 days and offered a deposit up front then asked for phone numbers and enquired which credit cards were acceptable. The email had a number of grammar and spelling errors. This would appear to be a cashback money transfer fraud - see further details below.
REPORT FRAUD AND CYBER CRIME
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have recently joined forces with Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre, as part of new arrangements to investigate fraud.
Action Fraud takes all fraud and cyber-crime reports in the UK and provides support to citizens through both the contact centre and its web-based channels.
There are many forms of cybercrime and new cases are being uncovered all the time. One example is phishing emails. These are bogus emails with links to fake websites to trick people into entering personal details or account information.
As Action Fraud takes crime reports on behalf of the police, reporting directly is likely to be quicker and more convenient for you than visiting your local police station.
For more details click here. You can report suspected cases of fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by telephoning 0300 123 2040.
PRIVATE WATER SUPPLIES BULLETIN
NIEA provide some useful advice if you have a private water supply. For more information click here. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 028 9056 9282.
NEW STANDARDS FOR INTERNAL WINDOW BLINDS
This documents details information on the new standards for internal window blinds from the British Blind and Shutter Association. Click here for more details.
Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a colourless, odourless, toxic gas. Landlords and tenants both have responsibilities to ensure the safety of their premises. When it comes to carbon monoxide safety and the law, it depends on what type of fuel you have. Find out more
CLAIMING BACK BUSINESS WATER RATES
Did you know, if you pay business water rates you may be entitled to claim some money back. Click here for more details.
CASHBACK MONEY TRANSFER FRAUD – TOURIST ACCOMMODATION
A number of tourist accommodation providers have contacted Tourism NI regarding what appears to be booking scams.
The following information is designed to help make you aware of what form these scams may take, as they can often follow a similar pattern, and to encourage you to remain alert.
A booking enquiry is made (usually by email). Examples of the queries include:
- Reservations for priests coming for an event
- 2 couples from Russia on honeymoon
- An alleged employee claiming to be from UNESCO – visit http://www.unesco.org.uk//contact_us to see further details.
- A couple called Mr & Mrs Anderson searching for accommodation.
- Monique W Raynal and her daughter asking for a reservation.
- Francois Garnier from Paris - for more information visit http://www.stmem.com/warnings.php
- Mr & Mrs Lawson
The accommodation provider replies to the booking enquiry with details regarding availability and costs etc. In most cases the booking is being arranged by a friend who will request further information from you such as address and phone numbers. Even if you send notification that the booking is not suitable, you may still receive an email advising that the terms are acceptable.
The booking is then confirmed by the initial requestor and details of how the payment will be made (usually by credit card, travellers cheques or bankers draft). The payment is usually for a greater amount than the actual cost with the accommodation provider being asked to cash the travellers cheques/bankers draft/accept the credit card payment and to send the balance to another person such as a booking agent, travel agent, translator, etc, whose details are provided.
If you proceed, you usually find that the original payment is not honoured by your own bank as the credit card/bankers draft/travellers cheques are fake. Whilst a stolen cheque or bankers draft can be recalled by the bank, even after the funds have gone through the clearing cycle and are showing on your account, any money transferred by you cannot be recalled once sent.
This type of scam is common for all sectors, not just accommodation. Scams continue to circulate using different emails, details and names but following the same format.
For more information, you can simply type the words “cashback money transfer scam” into your internet search engine or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk.
Tourism NI is aware of an incident where callers to a property attempted to distract the proprietor in order to potentially steal from the premises.
This occurred when two callers requested to view a room and, whilst upstairs with the proprietor, two further persons entered the property and tried to access a downstairs bedroom.
Please be vigilant and take any necessary precautions when answering the door to callers.