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Cheap holiday website scammers nicked

Refunds may not be forthcoming

A man and a woman suspected of running a holiday website scam that duped thousands of UK citizens have been arrested.

A woman in her 30s and a man in his 60s were arrested at separate London addresses on Saturday, and are now being interrogated by fraud squad officers, according to the Metropolitan Police. The Office of Fair Trading is also investigating the scam.

The arrests follow warnings from Abta (the Association of British Travel Agents) on Friday that a series of websites had been used to defraud an estimated 3,000 people of several hundred thousand pounds. The six or seven sites involved included Unbeatableholidays.com, Holidaysforunder200pounds.com, Sunmedresorts.com and Holidayezs.com, police said.

Users were unlikely to get their money back unless they paid by credit card, according to the Abta.

The company involved was Fleetwood Holidays, also trading as Sun Orient, which shut its London-registered offices a week ago with no forwarding address. The scammers ran each website for a short period, before shutting it down and starting the next, police said.

Abta advised users to pay by credit card and to ensure the firm they buy from is bonded by either Abta or Atol (the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing) - which the firm involved wasn't.

Online fraud involving convincing-looking websites has become a major problem, convincing many companies to roll out antifraud software and services. The latest is Yahoo, which has begun testing a service the company says will help users from being tricked by fake Yahoo-affiliated websites.

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