Thursday, 12 June 2008

Gangs of conmen are swindling holidaymakers in Spain and the Canaries out of billions of pounds every year

01:17 |

Gangs of conmen are swindling holidaymakers in Spain and the Canaries out of billions of pounds every year.The Office of Fair Trading says 400,000 Brits lose an average of £3,000 each to "holiday club" scams that promise endless sunshine breaks at too-good-to-be-true rates. touts all use the same techniques to snare their victims.
You're stopped in the street and offered a scratchcard. Surprise, surprise - you're a winner.To collect your prize - often a "free" holiday - you have to attend a presentation at a local hotel. You're then plied with cheap drink under a barrage of high-pressure sales.The bait is membership of a club that provides bargain holidays, flights and accommodation anywhere you want for 10 years - and you are showered with fabulous examples at knockdown prices. Typically the conmen initially ask for a membership fee of £10,000 but let you beat that down to £7,000, £5,000 or even a "bargain" £3,000 - if you hand over a deposit right away.
Once you get home you are given access to book holidays through a website - the trouble is they're rarely the ones you want and the prices are no better than anywhere else.The Office of Fair Trading has teamed up with regulators in Spain and Europe to put the racketeers out of business.
But the best way to beat them is make sure you're never tempted to join. When you're on holiday it's natural to dream of the time off you'd like to enjoy in the future.
But it's the very last time or place you should even consider making any sort of investment.So if you are interested tell them to send their literature to your home.
You're then in a better position to check who they are and take independent advice before committing yourself to anything.
If you want to invest in holidays for the future, timeshare is a better bet.
Plenty of reputable British firms offer it and you have the benefits of tight international regulation and our own laws to protect you.

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