Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber reporting centre, is warning half term holiday makers to avoid fraudulent flight ticket sellers.
The reporting service has received 110 reports from victims whose total losses amount to £98,043. Action Fraud say victims are being enticed by offers of cheap flights and getaways this half term.
A new scam
Victims are being cold called by fraudsters claiming to work for travel companies. Action Fraud say the fraudsters are using new tactics to gain the trust of victims. Intelligence suggests they appear to know that the victim has recently searched for flights online. This may be because the victim has filled in their contact details when searching for flights on unknowingly bogus websites, these bogus sites record and store the victims personal details. The victim is then cold-called and offered a substantially lower price then they were quoted online, proving too good an offer to refuse for many looking for cheap flight this half term.
After paying for their flights, victims have reported to Action Fraud, they received a confirmation email, but after making further enquiries with the airline discovered their bookings do not exist. When victims attempt to contact the fraudulent company they find That all contact has been severed.
Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, Said: “We see holiday and flight related frauds at peak times throughout the year, but this type of fraud is different. By contacting people who have recently searched for flights online, the fraudsters are able to gain the victim’s trust much more quickly. It’s essential that people check with ABTA and ATOL before using a flight ticket website or broker to make sure the site is legitimately authorised.”
Action Fraud are advising the following:
Action Fraud is urging people to be wary of unsolicited calls, emails and texts offering questionably good deals on flights. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you’re purchasing tickets from a company you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, such as searching the company’s name on the ABTA and ATOL databases. You can also ask friends or family for advice before you make a purchase.
Avoid paying for tickets by bank transfer as it offers you little protection if you become a victim of fraud. Instead, use a credit card or payment services such as PayPal.
Never reveal any personal or financial details as a result of an unsolicited call, email or text. Even if someone knows your basic details (such as your name and contact details), it doesn’t mean they are genuine.