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Don’t let flight ticket fraudsters take off with your cash

Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, is warning half term holiday makers to avoid fraudulent flight ticket sellers as they use new tactics.

  • Action Fraud warns half term holiday makers to avoid new tactics of fraudulent flight ticket sellers
  • The reporting centre has received 110 reports with total losses of £98,043
  • Check with ABTA and ATOL to make sure a ticket sales site is legitimately authorised

The reporting centre, which has received 110 reports with total losses of £98,043, has collated intelligence that fraudsters are attempting to entice victims who are looking for cheap flights abroad.

New tactics - how does it happen?

Victims are being cold called by fraudsters purporting to be travel companies. However fraudsters in these cases are using new tactics to gain the victim’s trust. Intelligence suggests they appear to know that the victim has recently been searching to book flights online. It is suspected that this is because the victim has provided their contact details when making a search for flights on a bogus website which records their personal details. Once contacted, the victim wrongly believes the call to be genuine and a deliberately low quote for the desired flights tempts many victims into making payment.

After having made a payment for flights as a result of the call, victims have reported receiving a confirmation email but further enquiries with the airline have revealed their booking does not exist. When victims have attempted to re-contact the suspect they have found that all contact has been severed.

Protect yourself

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.

Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud 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.”

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, said: “Travellers are at risk from increasingly sophisticated attempts to sell them fraudulent flight tickets. For those unlucky enough to fall victim to this malicious activity, it causes real financial and emotional distress, while also shattering their plans for a holiday or a visit to see family and friends.

“To protect yourself from fake flight tickets research the company you are booking with and if booking online to thoroughly check the web address to make sure it is legitimate.

“For further advice visit and if you think you’ve bought a fraudulent ticket report it to Action Fraud.”

For more information about how to protect yourself online, visit Cyber Aware and Take Five.

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