Never settling for just a single form of crime, the criminals take a four-pronged approach, assuming that consumers and businesses will ‘take the bait’ on at least one: The four types of scams include:
Schemes Involving E-Mail Ticketing:
These are fake itineraries with e-tickets that contain a virus attachment as a .zip file. Airlines never send .zip files, and only send .pdf (Adobe Acrobat) files, that can be easily downloaded. There have also been reports of consumers and businesses receiving emails that indicate they were charged for the cost of an airline ticket, with the appearance of a supposed ‘receipt attachment’. The attachment contains malicious software that is then downloaded to the computer.
Booked Flights Using Credit Card Information that was Stolen:
The criminals are aware that many companies have departments that are continually researching for reduced and discounted flight pricing. They make use of stolen credit cards to purchase airline tickets and then sell the flight tickets on websites such as Craigslist, Gumtree, Oodle and Kijiji, with a standard ‘reason’ for sale that typically includes the fact that they are no longer able to make the flight and are offering the ticket(s) at reduced pricing. The red flag alert in this case is that the buyer must make the payment into an untraceable account which is typically accomplished via a wire transfer. Once the ticket is purchased from the scammer, the airline informs the buyer that it is useless, as a stolen credit card was used for the original purchase.
American Airline Phishing Email Ticket Notification Scam
Telephone Calls Misrepresenting Themselves as the Airlines for Discounts
This type of scam is typically a phone call to home or business from someone representing themselves as a major airline offering big overseas travel discounts. The fraud message usually includes a requirement to provide the credit card information for the ability to ‘claim the bonus’. In some cases, these calls are being made by an automated calling system. Some of the airlines have reinforced the fact that they never make use of any of these types of calling systems and for businesses and consumers to beware of the fraud.
Fake Wi-Fi Hot Spots at the Airport
In this case, there are simple signs posted where everyone can view them at the airport, making use of everyone’s desire to make use of free Wi-Fi. The user makes the assumption that the Wi-Fi offering is part of the airport connection and once tapped in, the criminals can have access to whatever devices that they are using to pull critical and personal information. To avoid this type of scam it is recommended that you do a simple search to find the name of each airport Wi-Fi connection prior to travel and limit the type of information and logging in access that you do when not in a known secure area.
SAA warned their customers of a phishing scam as well as a Cabin Crew Employment Scam this year.
Travel Agencies and Booking Agents need to ensure that their processes are secure to ensure that fraud is minimised.
“Da Vinci Forensics works on a continual basis with clients to keep them informed and diligent in the protection of crucial information and for the security against cyber hacking attempts. This is especially important when traveling both locally and internationally, where staff will not have their standard in-house security available. Educational efforts for internal employees that are responsible for booking travel include the red-flag alerts for potential travel scammers.”
Sharon Knowles, CEO of Da Vinci Forensics