Police are hunting a former Gold Medal Travel employee who sold a group of holidaymakers trips worth £10,000 and fled with the money.

Police confirmed insurance company AMPM boss Tony Mulligan from Preston, ­Lancashire, paid the former employee in cash after he met him through a friend in a pub.

Mulligan said he received emails confirming the holidays –which were for eight adults and 12 children–but since then Gold Medal has said it has no record of the bookings.

Mulligan and the other families protested outside the Gold Medal Travel offices in Preston last month and said they were “devastated” about the loss of their holidays.

Police in Lancashire are now hunting a 33-year–old man and believe he has left the Preston area. Police spokesman Andrew Bradbury said: “It is incredibly naive to hand over cash to someone in a pub, no matter how genuine they may seem. Our advice would be to book all holidays with a credit card with a recognised travel agent.”

A spokeswoman from Gold Medal Travel confirmed that the employee had left the company in earlyFebruary, when the allegations came to light. The operator is helping the police with their investigations.

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