Criminals target holidaymakers with fake offers of cheap flights


Half-term holidaymakers are being warned to watch out for cold calling fraudsters offering cheap flights abroad.

Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, has received 110 reports with total losses of £98,043 relating to fraudulent flight ticket sellers.

Victims are being cold called by fraudsters purporting to be travel companies – and 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 entered their details into a bogus website while looking for flights.

The victim is then tempted into making a payment after being given a deliberately low quote for the desired flights.

After making a payment, victims have reported receiving a confirmation email but they have then found out from the airline that their booking does not exist and the fraudster has cut off contact.

Action Fraud is reminding people to bear in mind that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

It said that people buying tickets from unfamiliar companies should carry out research first, such as searching the company’s name on the Abta and Atol databases.

It suggests avoiding paying by bank transfer. Paying by methods such as credit cards or PayPal can give consumers added protections if something goes wrong with a purchase.

And people should not reveal any personal or financial details as a result of a cold call.

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.”