Beware holiday scams and fake travel agencies in South Africa

While the festive season is a great time to have a break and do some shopping, South Africans are warned that it is the peak time for banking fraud.

This is according to Mazars South Africa Director Christo Snyman, who said consumers are particularly vulnerable to financial losses as a result of fraud during the December holidays.

“This is why it is vital that we all take the time to increase our awareness of fraud tactics and to know which warning signs to look for,” Snyman said.

He said there are a few specific scams that South Africans should be wary of over the holiday season.

These are listed below:

The Holiday Scam

Snyman said that fraudsters often advertise affordable holiday accommodation and packages online, offering limited space on almost sold out or almost fully booked reservations.

“They will encourage consumers to call or email them, and will often send beautiful pictures of the supposed accommodations to their mark,” he said.

“Victims will then be encouraged to make a 50% deposit to secure your place. All the while, you are unaware that a lot of other people have also placed a deposit for the same fake package.”

He said South Africans should be wary of these criminals and plan their holidays with reputable service providers.

“If you do fall victim to a scam like this, report it to the nearest police station,” he said.

“It may be near-impossible to recover your money but reporting them will assist others from falling prey to the same scam.”

Fake Travel Agencies

Another form of fraud faced by South African travellers is fake travel agencies offering attractive holiday packages.

“Fraudsters can create high-quality websites that offer amazing (almost too good to be true) packages,” Snyman said.

“For these deals, they often take on-the-spot payments from hundreds of tourist, and then close the site when they feel they have stolen enough.”

“More often than not, they will establish another site and start over again,” he said.

He advised that as a precaution, locals should make sure that the travel agency they use is a member of the Association of South African Travel Agents) or IATA (International Air Transport Association (ASATA).

These are professional bodies that will assist South Africans should anything go wrong.

Now read: Mkhize confirms second wave of COVID-19 in South Africa

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Beware holiday scams and fake travel agencies in South Africa