Updated on
Jan, 17 2024
John Joannides
Written by
Kendall Coffey
Researched by

Airline Ticket Fraud

Perhaps you enquired about the cost of an air ticket, and you remain dumbfounded. Then, suddenly, out of nowhere, you encounter a deal of a lifetime, a ticket sold for just a small percentage of the usual price.

Before making the purchase, ensure the airline ticket is valid, or else you could be a victim of airline ticket fraud.

How Airline Ticket Fraud Works

Criminals are experts in airline ticket fraud. Here’s how the fraud works;

  • The criminals use stolen or hacked payment card details to buy airline tickets.
  • The criminals offer the airline tickets at a bargain price through legit-looking websites or social media accounting, posing as agents.
  • The criminals ask for immediate payment, mostly by bank transfers or cash.
  • After making payments, the criminal sends you a flight booking confirmation. However, the original purchase details are no longer available.

Common Types of Airplane Ticket Fraud

  • Bogus flight booking websites

These travel agencies offer fraudulent airline tickets on phony websites at prices too good to be true. The scammers create a fake website similar to the airline or travel agency website and offer huge discounts.

The fake website might send a confirmation email, but there is no flight. Instead, the scammer steals your personal information from your card.

  • A sudden increase in discounted airline tickets

The scammers contact people who recently booked real flights and inform them to pay additional fees. For example, after finding a cheap flight online, a person calls you impersonating a travel agent and informs you that the flight prices have increased.

If you share your card details and pay the fee, you’ll find out that there was no price increase. But, unfortunately, the scammer has your personal information.

  • Enticing last-minute ticket deals from private sellers

Fraudsters use stolen financial information to buy airline tickets and sell them through fake travel agencies, fake airline websites or Facebook Marketplace. Then, they request cash payments for the tickets, bank transfers or cryptocurrency.

All these methods are difficult or impossible to request reversal. Even after voiding the tickets, the scammer gets to keep your money.

  • Fake flight cancellations

Scammers can inform you that your recently booked flight is canceled and needs re-booking at a fee. However, it’s a lie, and the money goes to the scammers. Additionally, they can use email links to phishing websites that prompt malware downloads.

Consequently, scammers access your personal information from your phone or computer.

  • Fake Payment Information

Typically, fraudsters commit crimes by using another individual’s personal and credit card details. For instance, in June 2016, the European section of Interpol apprehended more than 140 criminals within a two-day-operation.

  • Fake Travel Agencies

Delta Air Lines uncovered a scam performed by four third-party websites a few years back. They duped travelers by billing them for flight cancellations and fabricated reasons to Delta for ticket cancellations.

  • Phishing Employee Accounts

Beyond customers, airline staff members are susceptible to online swindles. This includes phishing, a method in which a scammer pretends to be a senior authority through email to procure classified data. Digital Trends reports that a recent phishing episode led to the loss of tickets valued at over $2 million by airline employees.

Tips to Make Airline Ticket Purchases

You can avoid being a victim of these fraudulent purchases by following a few tips.

  • Always book airline tickets from the airline or a recognized travel agency
  • Buy tickets from a website with secure payments systems
  • Confirm all the terms and conditions of buying the airline tickets
  • Confirm that the airline website has the IATA logo.

Final Thoughts

It would be best if you were wary of deals on airline tickets that sound too good to be true. You may lose cash and the airline ticket and expose your personal information to scammers.

Ensure you only buy tickets from official airline websites with secure payment methods. Also, read through all terms and conditions before making a purchase.

Kendall Coffey
Kendall Coffey
I have a long standing passion for criminal law, human rights issues, and politics, all of which are relevant to the practice of Interpol Red Notice defense. While few attorneys have experience with successfully challenging Red Notices, I do.

Airline Ticket Fraud FAQ ?!

What is airline fraud?
Airline fraud refers to illegal practices where criminals use stolen or hacked payment card details to buy airline tickets and sell them at bargain prices. They often use fake websites that mimic legitimate airline or travel agency websites, social media accounts, or directly contact unsuspecting individuals, posing as travel agents. The victims of such scams may end up with invalid tickets, personal data theft, and financial loss.
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