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Holiday club and timeshare fraud

What it is

When you’re told you can go on a free holiday or get rich by joining an exclusive holiday club or timeshare programme, but you’re eventually forced to pay for it through small print in the contact.

Protect yourself

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is; no-one makes a profit by giving away holidays just for watching a presentation.
  • If you go to a presentation, you can leave at any time. Don’t be pressured into signing anything you haven’t properly read. Take the documentation home, read it carefully and sleep on it.
  • If you like the look of an offer, check the small print carefully. Any verbal promises someone makes to you should be in writing, along with your cancellation rights.

Spot the signs

  • Someone has called, emailed or messaged you out of the blue telling you you’ve won a ‘free’ holiday or is offering you the chance to make incredible profits by investing in a timeshare accommodation.
  • You may even be approached while you’re on holiday to entice you to return for free, again just by joining their holiday club.
  • You’re told you simply need to watch a presentation to claim your holiday. Afterwards you’re pressured into signing a contract for a holiday club.

How it happens

This type of fraud is different to holiday fraud, which is when the holiday you book (or parts of it) don’t exist. In this fraud, the holiday on offer is genuine, but you have to pay for it after being offered it for free.

You may get a letter, phone call, email, text or message on social media from a company you don’t know or competitions you don’t remember entering saying you’ve won a free holiday; all you have to do to claim it is watch a short presentation. You may even be approached while you’re on holiday to entice you to come back for free; some fraudsters may hand you a scratchcard which is a ‘winner’ every time.

At the presentation, you’ll be shown glossy brochures and other marketing materials to make everything look legitimate. They might even serve free alcohol in an effort to make you more willing to sign up.

If you do sign the contract, you’ll later be told about small print that ties you down to paying hidden fees or taxes, which are effectively what you’d pay for the holiday. You may even find you can’t choose to take the holiday on the dates you want.

If they’re offering you to invest in a timeshare scheme, the property involved may not exist or it may fall well below the standards described in the presentation or in the seller’s glossy brochures.

How to report it

If Fraud has been committed report it to Action Fraud. For more advice and to raise any concerns, contact the Office of the Public Guardian.

Source - Action Fraud

Date Published: Jul 21, 2018

Types of fraud

A-Z of fraud

To help understand which fraud you've been affected by, we've categorised them into an alphabetical list.

What is fraud and cyber crime?

Cybercrimes can be of two types. First, it can be cyber dependent, where the fraudsters use online devices to convince the victim to accept their offers.

Advance fee fraud

If you are trying to get a loan for a house or a car, they ask to meet the provider to get the financing arrangement and pay the finder's fee in advance.

Corporate fraud

Corporate frauds can be complicated, committed either by the firm or an individual. Nevertheless, it mostly involves cheating where the employee or the firm.

Individual fraud

There are many types of individual frauds related to advance fees, investments, insurance brokers, bogus tradespeople, Ponzi schemes, pension liberation.

Online fraud

Hence the number of cases of online fraud is increasing each year, and most such cases include – account takeover, direct frauds, or scams related domain names.

Identity fraud and identity theft

The criminal uses the stolen identity of another person living or deceased to conduct unlawful activities like obtaining goods or services in another's name.
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