With the arrival of the holidays, one of the most frequent searches on the internet is for holiday homes to rent. The use of the internet for this purpose has become increasingly widespread, as it offers economical prices and is quick and simple to use.

During the holiday period, web platforms specialising in renting holiday homes are full of offers, and this situation can be exploited by cybercriminals as an opportunity to find potential victims.

How does this scam work?

Cybercriminals are constantly looking for people to defraud. Widely used website platforms, such as holiday rental platforms, are good shop windows, where you can offer fake products to trap potential victims.

The modus operandi is usually as follows: 

  • Cybercriminals use legitimate, reliable internet platforms where they publish false ads for accommodation, at very attractive prices, with photographs that attract people's attention.
  • Once the potential victim is interested in the home, they make contact with the cybercriminal and proceed to follow his instructions. These usually involve the payment of part or all of the booking, or requesting personal and bank details to arrange payment.

Another modus operandi used is the following:

  • The cybercriminal sends mass e-mails which include links that redirect users to websites which allegedly belong to holiday home rental companies but which turn out to be fraudulent
  • When potential victims access these fake pages, they are requested to provide personal and/or bank details that will subsequently be used by the cybercriminal to defraud them.

What security measures should you follow to avoid falling prey to this type of fraud?

CaixaBank makes the following security recommendations to minimise your risk of becoming a victim of holiday fraud:

  • Apply common sense and do not believe any attractive offer (or unmissable bargain) that arrives online without first checking this information.
  • Check up on the advertiser, their background and the opinions of other users on the platform.
  • Before carrying out any transactions, take full precautions regarding the payment method. You should be suspicious if the advertiser requests payment via an alternative channel to the one offered by the website.
  • Be especially wary of bookings which are urgent or where you have to hurry.
  • It's a good idea to use tools such as Google Street View to check that the property exists and is similar to the one offered. 

What should you do if you are a victim of fraud?

If you are a victim of this type of fraud, you should:

  • Inform your bank about the fraud as quickly as possible.
  • Report the incident to the police.
  • Save all the details and information relating to the advertisement and the contacts established with the alleged seller, as they may be required while the case is being investigated.