Family’s Long-Awaited Spanish Getaway Turns Sour: Nonexistent Villa Scam Spoils Vacation Plans


A family’s well-deserved vacation after an 11-year hiatus took an unfortunate turn when they fell victim to a fraudulent villa scheme. Their anticipation for a relaxing holiday was shattered upon arriving at their destination in Spain, only to find out that the villa they had booked was nothing more than an elaborate scam.

A Dream Turned Nightmare:

Neil Bray, a 42-year-old father of four, had meticulously planned a summer retreat in Alicante, Spain, for his family of six. Searching for an idyllic accommodation, he stumbled upon a tempting offer – a four-bedroom villa complete with luxurious amenities including a swimming pool, sauna, and jacuzzi, all at the seemingly bargain price of €1,800. The property was listed on a Spain holiday rentals group.

The Elaborate Ruse:

Impressed by the villa’s description, Neil initiated contact with the advertiser. After a reassuring phone call discussing dates and availability, he proceeded to transfer a €180 deposit via TransferGo. The deal appeared legitimate, and buoyed by the false promise, the family invested a total of £1,800 in plane tickets from Gatwick to Alicante, eager to embark on their long-awaited adventure.

A Disheartening Arrival:

Arriving in Spain with excitement, the Bray family expected to be greeted and chauffeured to their rented villa. However, their anticipation turned to dismay as no one showed up to collect them. The subsequent attempts to contact the supposed villa owner through various means – Facebook, WhatsApp, email, calls, and texts – all met with silence. The bleak realization dawned that they had fallen victim to an elaborate ruse.

Painful Costs and Alternative Solutions:

In the aftermath of the scam, the family was left with no choice but to seek alternative accommodation, incurring unexpected expenses. They spent €2,800 on a new villa, an additional €125 on travel, and €325 for a hire car. Neil, a bank manager from Bexhill, East Sussex, expressed the distress caused not only by the financial setback but also the emotional toll.

Reflecting on the Aftermath:

Neil shared his sentiments, stating that while the monetary loss was not exorbitant, the real impact was the distress and disruption that marred their long-awaited vacation. The experience cast a shadow on their ability to fully enjoy the trip, leaving a sense of frustration and regret.

Moving Forward:

Despite the setbacks, the Bray family managed to salvage their vacation by securing an alternative property. Neil emphasized the importance of focusing on their children’s experience and making the most of their time together.


The Bray family’s unfortunate encounter serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of online scams, even in the realm of vacation rentals. Their story underscores the importance of vigilance and thorough research when dealing with such transactions, preventing others from falling prey to similar schemes.

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