A mum who was scammed by a fraudster selling fake caravan holidays on social media urges others not to fall for the same trick.
Jane Clark, from Stevenston in Ayrshire, booked a long weekend at the Craig Tara caravan site and paid a total of £230 for her stay. She strongly advised people to make thorough checks before making any payments or bookings.
Ms Clark said: “It was a last minute thing and after a look on Facebook I saw an advert.”
She sent messages to the Facebook profile arranging to pay through bank transfer and was told to pick the keys up from the reception at 6 o’clock on the day.
Ms Clark’s son later noticed posts on Facebook warning people that the holiday advert was a scam. Following this Ms Clark sent multiple messages, to the woman she had booked with, but found she was blocked and received no reply.
Ms Clark’s three children were devastated and she had lost money that she could not afford to lose.
BBC Scotland spoke to dozens of people who paid for a caravan holiday, only to reveal the real owners were unaware of their booking.
The fraudsters had used fake identities to display adverts and book families into caravans they do not own.
A statement from Haven, the holiday firm that runs the Craig Tara caravan site, 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 also advised that customers book through trusted sites. 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 provides 24/7 cover around the world to ensure we can respond to these reports as quickly as possible.”
Police investigated all cases that were brought to them but said it was often difficult to catch the people involved. Police understand that people are trying to get the best deals but they are leaving themselves open to scammers.