Fraudsters Rip Off Travellers through Fake Airline Booking Accounts
Many Nigerians have inadvertently booked and paid for flights on fraudulent airline sites, which are either cloned or copied to look like that of the airlines by fraudsters.
In fact, it is projected that air travellers may have lost about N2 billion on such fake sites in the last five years, but as airlines strive to inform travellers about such possible sites, some continue to fall victims, especially now Internet fraud is on the increase.
Spokesman of Air Peace, Stanley Olisa told THISDAY that there was a time some fraudsters manipulated the airline’s website and travellers were making payments into it.
He explained that the fraudsters created fake Air Peace account so that when passengers book their flights they pay into the fake accounts.
Under the fraudulent platforms they created their own accounts and people were going to the page to book flights and making payments.
But when the airline was notified its IT team successfully blocked the fake account.
The airline also notified travellers, using all media platforms about the fraudulent account.
“That fake site has been halted. We have our standard media platforms. We are on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and we have our website. We also have travel agents we partner with and in addition to those, we also have mobile app.
“Besides these platforms, any other one is a sham. Such platforms should not be patronised. Travellers wishing to buy our tickets can also go to airports. We have telephone numbers on the website and email, so you can place a call to us,” Olisa explained.
Also Azman Air booking website had been cloned in the past and travellers booked, bought tickets and paid to the wrong accounts and in the process lost millions of naira.
A source from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) consumer protection directorate then explained that some crooks opened a fake website named azmanair, whereas the real Azman Air airline website was airazman. So they used the website to defraud people and rip them off of millions of naira.
“So if by any chance you go to the website and entered the crooks site and go ahead and make payment you will find out that you are not billed for any flight,” the official explained then.
“We called Azman and told them they have to warn people and they placed advert on the pages of newspapers and other media. Then we made serious efforts to block the website, which we have now succeeded in doing,” the source also said.
But Head of Communication,
Dana Air, Kingsley Ezenwa, told THISDAY that whereas the airline has not experienced its website being cloned, it was job scam that it had experienced, whereby people use the name of the airline to advertise fake job vacancies and they would invite prospective candidates to Abuja for interview and ask them to pay for flight ticket.
“Once you pay for flight ticket they take the money and disappear because you pay into their private account,” he said.
Ezenwa explained that Dana Air has fortified website that once it is opened Dana Air advert would appear, which confirms the genuineness of the site.
IT expert and Editor of Techeconomy.ng, Mr. Peter Oruka, said internet fraudsters succeed in creating fake airlines website because people do not know the original URL of those sites so the inadvertently book and pay for tickets in fake accounts.
He explained that the fake ones usually look more attractive and when they open it.
“So airlines should be able to tell people their original websites. It is the passengers that lose money, not the airlines. The fraudsters are interested in the credit card numbers of their victims, which they use to access their accounts.
“They should buy domain names around their own site like if an airline’s website is azmanair.com, for example, it should also buy domain names like airazman.com, flyazman air etc. That way it would be difficult to create a site close to the name of the airline,” he explained.