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Airline Ticket Scam Alert: What You Need to Know Before Booking

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New Delhi: During the festive season, the travel rush is in full swing, with people actively booking tickets for buses, trains, and flights to enjoy vacations or reunite with loved ones. Airlines are joining the festive spirit by offering major ticket discounts through special campaigns, festivals, and holiday deals. Regrettably, scammers are taking advantage of these opportunities to deceive unsuspecting travelers.

INTERPOL, the International Criminal Police Organization, has recently issued a warning to the public regarding a widespread airline ticket scam. Let’s take a closer look at how the scam operates and find ways to stay safe.

What exactly is Airline ticket scam

In an airline ticket scam, criminals exploit stolen, compromised, or hacked credit card details to acquire airline tickets. They market these tickets at seemingly attractive prices through professionally designed websites or social media accounts, posing as genuine travel agencies or agents.

When a person tries to book tickets on these misleading platforms, the scammers request instant payment, typically in cash, bank transfers, or virtual currencies. After receiving the payment, they send a flight booking confirmation, altering it by removing their original purchase details.

While purchasing a flight ticket with a stolen credit card might appear inconspicuous, it carries severe consequences. Buyers of such tickets face the risk of being stranded at the airport if the rightful owner of the stolen credit card reports the fraudulent transaction before the scheduled flight. Even if the owner reports it after the buyer boards the plane, the credit card company may reverse the charge, leaving the buyer stranded without a means to return home.

Apart from the risk of being stranded, those buying stolen airline tickets unknowingly contribute to criminal activities. The funds they provide for these tickets directly finance criminals, enabling their involvement in various other serious offenses.

How to detect fraud discounts

Detecting fraud discounts can be challenging, according to Interpol. Scammers often create fake websites and social media accounts that appear legitimate, sometimes using stolen travel agent identities. To identify potential fraud in flight ticket sales, consider the following:

  • Unusually low ticket prices may indicate a scam, enticing people with lower costs to exploit them through fraudulent schemes.
  • Be cautious about last-minute departure dates, as scammers sell fraudulently acquired tickets shortly before the flight, taking advantage of the time between purchase and the cardholder’s realization.
  • Exercise caution if asked to pay in cash or through a bank transfer, as these methods offer limited protection against fraud.
  • Verify the contact information provided by the travel agency, ensuring it includes a complete address and a landline phone number. Missing information warrants further research to confirm the agency’s legitimacy and certification before making any purchases.

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