FAKE HOLIDAYS: Fraudster who sold fake holidays on Facebook has been convicted
A fraudster who sold fake holidays to families by posing as a bogus travel broker on Facebook has been convicted.
Brooke Reay tricked her victims by offering cheap holidays and spa days on the social media site, using stolen credit cards and fake profiles to disguise her deception.
By the time the credit cards had declined, Reay’s victims had already transferred their hard-earned money directly into her account - and were subsequently left out of pocket.
The 25-year-old trickster pocketed more than £2,000 over a four-week period after falsely booking three victims holidays to Mexico, Tenerife and Benidorm, as well as a spa day at a Durham hotel. An investigation was launched into the fraudulent activity and it was only a matter of time before detectives identified Reay as the prime suspect.
She refused to cooperate with police in interview, but with the evidence stacking against her, on Friday (April 9) she pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud by false representation at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
Reay, of Dunstanburgh Road, Byker, and formerly of Sunderland and South Shields, is due to be sentenced at the same court on April 30. Detective Sergeant Emma Martin, of Northumbria Police, said: “These crimes are absolutely appalling as Reay gained people’s trust on social media before cruelly conning them out of their hard-earned cash. Using fake profiles, she would offer holiday packages and spa days that seemed almost too good to be true – and that ultimately turned out to be the case.
“Reay knowingly and willingly manipulated her victims over a four-week period. Her victims have been left betrayed and embarrassed after being caught out by her scam. Especially now at a time when many families are looking forward to booking holidays following a hard year for everyone, I would urge people to be aware of this kind of criminality and remain vigilant.
“Fraudsters quite often target the most vulnerable in our communities, and their scams can be sophisticated and appear genuine. It is therefore important that individuals like Reay are convicted of their crimes and brought to justice.”
Northumbria Police warn to only book a holiday directly with an airline or hotel, or through a reputable agent – and check online whether they are a member of the Association of British Travel Agents.
If you do decide to deal directly with a property owner or letting agent, do not book on websites that don’t have a padlock icon (https) in the address bar, and be cautious if you are asked to pay using bank transfer or cash.
For more advice on how to protect yourself against fraud and how to spot the signs, visit https://www.actionfraud.
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