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News Every Day |

We’re devastated after losing hundreds in a very convincing holiday scam – here’s how to avoid being caught out

AT least two care workers have been conned out of their hard-earned cash – warning Brits to be wary of scammers this holiday season.

Helen Dove is a disability support worker and was looking forward to a holiday after working through the pandemic.

Helen Dove
Disability support worker Helen Dove says she was scammed by a holiday booking company[/caption]
Helen Dove
She was looking forward to a well-earned break with Hotel Retailers but was never able to cash in her pre-paid voucher[/caption]
Helen Dove
The 58-year-old says she was never able to book a hotel online after handing over £82 saying she was “lucky” she could survive that[/caption]
Valerie Pyburn
Valerie Pyburn who is a fulltime carer for her husband says she was also scammed by Holiday Retailers[/caption]
Valerie Pyburn
The pair were looking forward to celebrating their 21st wedding anniversary but also found they couldn’t book any hotels after paying £82[/caption]
Valerie Pyburn
Helen and Valerie are warning other Brits to be wary of scammers this holiday season[/caption]

In late 2021, the 58-year-old saw a deal on Facebook with Holiday Retailers offering two nights accommodation anywhere in the UK for the discounted price of £82.

She said: “I’m a support worker so I get every other weekend off so time is important to me and we do like to go away when we can.”

“I quizzed [Holiday Retailers] about how easy it was to book it and the hotel that I was interested in was in York.”

“She said I can guarantee that you’ll get your first hotel of choice and promised me the world but whenever I went to book it, there was no availability.”

Helen had 12 months to use her voucher but once she realised the barriers to booking, she asked for a refund.

In screenshots shown to The Sun, Holiday Retailers said there had been an “unprecedented surge in booking requests” and “holiday availability across our inventory for the UK is now almost completely depleted”.

But they did offer the support worker a week at their ‘partner’ boutique hotel for the discounted price of £199 or the option to upgrade to a premium level booking for £99.

Helen said: “I just let the money go.”

“I’m lucky I could survive that but for some people, that could be everything to them that could be their yearly break.”

Valerie Pyburn, 64, was also in the market for a holiday to celebrate her 21st wedding anniversary with her disabled husband who she cares for.

She claims she received a phone call from the same company saying she was runners-up in a competition winning a two-night hotel break in the UK for £82.

“[Holiday Retailers] said you have a year to claim it back so I thought we’d go ahead with it.”

“We had no immediate plans to book so we left it but received continuous calls – did we want to upgrade to a week abroad? Have you booked your trip yet? Do you want to upgrade it?”

With three months left on her contract Valerie went to book but like Helen, she found there was no availability. 

According to Valerie, Holiday Retailers had multiple excuses for why she wasn’t able to book her retreat through their platform and she was eventually denied a refund.

She added: “It was our 21st wedding anniversary and we wanted a nice weekend away but we were blamed for not booking it earlier basically.”

She reported the company to Watchdog websites and was eventually refunded the money through her bank.

She said: The constant emails and phone calls they went on for months and the fact that they were still trying to sell me stuff after, I think was the worst bit.”

“If anybody does upgrade to this week away somewhere then they’ve paid out even more money than I have.”

On the trusted peer-review platform TripAdvisor, there are 12 1-star reviews dating to October this year with one hotelier commenting: “They cold call and lie to people about supposedly winning a holiday and asking them to pay £82 for breakfast. I have tearful wannabe guests arriving at my reception with supposed booking confirmation vouchers from this website.”

In the 2021/22 financial year, there was a 120% increase in the number of holiday and travel-related fraud reports. 

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said: “When booking a holiday here or abroad, it’s so important to do your research before handing over any money or personal details. Trust your instincts and remember, if a deal looks too good to be true, then it probably is.”

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at

Holiday Retailers were contacted for comment. 

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