Mum’s warning after being tricked by Blackpool holiday cottage scam on Facebook


A mum has warned families booking holidays in Blackpool to stay vigilant after losing a £100 deposit in a scam that promised her a four night getaway. Emma Reynolds, 37, booked a cottage stay in the resort town after stumbling across an advertisement for a cottage and hot tub stay on Facebook.

She had looked forward to for a ‘weekend family break’ with her partner Dorota and 10-year old son Kyle as well as her cousin and her partner. Booking last minute, Emma felt she had uncovered a ‘good deal’ shared by a Facebook account that appeared to be operated by the owner of a cottage in Blackpool, as well as a caravan on Marton Mere, a lodge with a hot tub in Blackpool and a caravan in Presthaven, Wales.

The supposed owner, who is currently advertising holiday rents under the name of Amy Lucia, took a £100 deposit and gave Emma the choice of paying the full amount – an extra £250 – at the same time or ‘before or on’ the day of arrival. Emma decided to pay the extra £250 after checking in.

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The scam gave Emma, ​​from Walsall, the choice of making the payment either directly to their ‘business account’ or through a payment link powered by SumUp. LancsLive attempted to book a stay with Amy Lucia where the same bank details were provided as well as a SumUp link which showed a clear method of payment to ‘Amy’s cottages’.

But the real owners of the cottage have spoken to LancsLive to confirm they do not operate under the name Amy Lucia, and do not advertise on Facebook, or take payments in this way. After paying her deposit, Emma had ‘regular contact’ with Amy Lucia and even asked her for a mobile number she could contact should anything go wrong during her stay.



The family booked another B&B so they could still enjoy a weekend away in Blackpool

Emma told LancsLive: “I also asked for a mobile number which I was given and when I called a female answered as I wanted to check she had given me the correct number just in case something was to go wrong at the cottage during our stay. ” Emma and her family de ella left to stay at the cottage on March 25 and sent a message to Amy as they departed.

It was then that Emma noticed a ‘red exclamation mark’ appear next to her message. Emma said: “I tried to send the messages again but the same thing happened. I then sent a WhatsApp message to the number but it didn’t send either which is when I tried calling the number which was off and went to voicemail.

“I searched for Amy on Facebook but couldn’t find her, so I asked my partner to see if she could find her and straight away there she was….so I messaged off her account and as soon as she knew it was me she blocked me again. That’s when we knew we had been scammed.”

Emma said her 10-year-old son was sat in the back of their car with ‘a ball on his lap waiting to leave’. She added: “I went outside and burst into tears because I knew he would be heart broken.”

Emma to go onto Booking.com and book a BnB elsewhere decided ‘just so he could go for the weekend’. “It’s sad that a person could do this. It’s not even about the money it’s the principal,” Emma continued.

LancsLive found the same advertisement Emma had seen on Facebook Marketplace. The advertisement for a ‘Cottage with hot tub’ is described as a ‘cottage available for holiday let’ with a ‘hot tub, pool and bar/bbq area’. It has a genuine line of address and is generally advertised to cost £425 a month.

Messaging the seller to see if they could make a booking for April 8, LancsLive were told it would cost just £85 per night. After telling the account we were ready to book, they were asked for an email address and the names of anyone over the age of 18 who would be staying.

Once these details had been provided and a payment of £170 for two nights had been paid, a booking confirmation would be sent to the email provided, we were told. Having asked for an email confirming all details pre-payment, they quickly received an email with details including the address of the cottage, booking dates, check-in times and a key safe code.

They were also told ‘full instructions on use of HOT TUB, pool safety and use of BBQ’ could be found on the kitchen table, as well as the Wi-Fi password. A mobile number was also provided but they were told if they were looking to reach Amy, email or Facebook would be the first point of call.

But the real owners of the cottage, who did not wish to be named, contacted LancsLive to confirm that they are not the people behind the Facebook advertisement, or booking process. In fact, they claim that they also have been blocked by the account, which is understood to regularly change its name, and have said they have people ‘turn up from all over the UK’ thinking they have booked a stay at their cottage, not knowing they have fallen victim to the scam.

The real owners of the cottage have attempted to inform the police but were directed to report it to Action Fraud. They claim because they had not lost money themselves, there is nothing that can be done to stop the false seller advertising their cottage.

The owners of the cottage have also confirmed that the photographs used on the advertisement are genuine photographs of their cottage, as well as the line of address. As well as this, they confirmed there is only one mode of booking when it comes for their cottage, and it is not through SumUp nor direct transfer.

The scammer started sharing advertisements in accommodation groups on Facebook and on Facebook Marketplace in October last year and is understood to have used the following names: Natasha Little, Jade Greaves, Casey, Crystal and Amy Lucia. Although Emma was still able to enjoy a weekend away with her family from her, she hopes no more people will fall victim to the scam.

She added: “People like this need to be stopped. I hear she is now using Amy’s cottages as a new business name and is still taking booking for this cottage. So more people will fall victim to their scam. I hope that people don’ t fall victim to anymore of these type of scams.

“Always book through a trusted website or make sure this person is approved and is a proper business. It’s so easy to fall victim and it’s a shame because genuine business owners will suffer because people don’t trust them.”




www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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