Compassionate caravanners and coastal businesses have teamed up to save a young family’s holiday after they fell victim to a heartless scam.
Members of the Ingoldmells & Chapel Fans page on Facebook were distraught to learn the family’s treasured time away had been jeopardised when a fraudster using a social networking profile took money for a caravan which wasn’t theirs to rent .
The kind-hearted site members rallied together and quickly raised enough funds to find the family a room at the Merrydale Hotel in Skegness, while securing free meals and days out from generous local businesses and attractions.
Brian Cole, of LA Caravanhire, who helped coordinate the fundraising efforts, has been amazed by the generosity shown towards the family.
“It’s gone really well,” he said.
“We just wanted to make sure there wasn’t going to be four children disappointed because some wicked person had scammed them.
“People are having to save harder than ever to afford a holiday with all these cutbacks and it’s terrible to hear that there are cowboys out there giving Skegness a bad name.”
The family, who arrived in Skegness earlier this week, have been offered free meals at Bar Wicked, wrist bands and visitor passes for Fantasy Island and Butlin’s, free entry to Natureland Seal Sanctuary, Hardy’s Animal Farm and Tiny Tots Village.
“I think, the generosity of all those involved has been absolutely brilliant,” said Brian.
Posting her thanks to the group, the family’s mother, who did not wish to be named, said: “Thank you so much to everyone who made donations for us too still have our holiday...You are all amazing people.”
Further victims of caravan scams have also come forward in recent weeks, raising fears about the negative impression visitors are likely to develop.
Sarah Inman and her family paid £450 for a week’s caravan rental through someone claiming to be a private owner on Waterside Leisure Park
When the date for the family’s visit approached, however, the owner claimed the caravan had been damaged and could no longer be rented, then blocked Sarah’s Facebook profile, leaving her unable to arrange a refund.
Upon checking with the caravan park, Sarah was also told rental business in question had not owned anything on that site since last season.
“We were absolutely devastated,” said Sarah. “You save all year for something like that, I’ve got three young boys who were really looking forward to their holiday, my husband had taken time off work and I’ve still not had my money back.”
Sarah was forced to borrow money and cut their visit short for it to still go ahead and has warned others to be more careful when booking.
Reputable caravan owners such as Donna-Lee Cope fears the few fraudsters risk damaging visitor’s perception of the coast. “It’s a minority but it puts everyone one in an untrusting state of alarm,” she said.