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Republic of the Philippines
National Police Commission
PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE
ANTI-CYBERCRIME GROUP
Camp BGen Rafael T Crame, Quezon City
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ACG-CYBER SECURITY BULLETIN NR 184: Beware of Online Airline Ticket Scam

Reference Number ACG-CSB 030920184

The following information was obtained from different cyber security sources for notification to all parties concerned pursuant to the mandate of the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP ACG) and classified as “Restricted” pursuant to the PNP Regulation 200-012 on Document Security and Impact Rating as high based on PNP Information Communication Technology (ICT) Security Manual s.2010-01 p. 22 and p.129.

SUMMARY

The internet is a great place to find good deals on airline tickets. If you're booking a flight for a vacation this summer, be careful about which website you are using. Consumers need to use caution, however, as there are several sites offering deals too good to be true. Take them up on the deal and your dream vacation may be ruined when the bargain rate tickets fail to arrive. Remember, if it seems to good to be true, it most likely is. If you like traveling, you can easily fall prey to airline scams by simply looking for free airline tickets.

The free airline ticket online travel scam is most prevalent on social media channels, like Facebook or Twitter. Through this scam, travelers often see a message or post for the "official" page of an airline or travel provider. This scam targets anyone who is remotely interested in traveling. It relies on people following the instructions in order to self-perpetuate online, hopping from one person to another.

There are many more sites attracting customers by undercutting airline ticket prices offered elsewhere. It captures credit card information, including account number, expiration date, and Card Verification Value (CVV) an anti-fraud security feature on credit cards. The customer then receives a message telling them that the credit card transaction has been declined, followed by instructions to wire funds for payment of the tickets. Another version of this scam has the website giving you an error message at the end of the transaction alerting you that there was a technical problem with instructions on how to pay for the ticket by postal money order.

This scam is basically a form of phishing, but it differs from the “normal” phishing scam in that it is the customer that initiates the contact. The customer does this by doing a web search for the best airline ticket prices. Finding the corrupt sites through a web search creates a false impression that the sites are legitimate. If you fall for this scam, the crooks will have succeeded in obtaining your credit card information, money that you have wired, and deposit account information.
In the most common version of the scam, you pay with your credit card like normal. But shortly after making the payment, you receive a call from the company asking you to verify your name, address, banking information or other personal details something a legitimate company would never do.

What makes the scam so convincing is that, once you pay, you receive a confirmation code that can be verified with the airline. However, after a day or two, your reservation will be cancelled and the company that charged you will disappear. It appears the scammers booked the flight and charged your card only to cancel it shortly after and make off with your money.

While booking online may seem convenient and safe, there is actually a lot to watch out for. Your security is important, and you do not want to give your credit card or other personal information to any online travel website. Your best bet is to book with a reputable travel agent.

RECOMMENDATION

All PNP personnel as well as the public are advised to follow the tips in order to avoid the risk of online airline ticket scam:

• Be wary of unsolicited travel offer emails and phone calls;
• Be wary of offers “free” trip offers;
• Book directly through the airline;
• Do not buy online unless the transaction is secure;
• Look for reviews and ask for references;
• Never share personally identifiable information; and
• Never send money to someone you have never met face-to-face.

For additional information, please refer to the following websites:

• https://www.fraudguides.com/consumers/airline-ticket-scams/
• https://www.bbb.org/article/scams/20149-scam-alert-airfare-con-bills-victims-for-canceled-tickets
• https://www.bbb.org/article/tips/8767-bbb-tips-10-steps-to-avoid-scams
• https://www.tripsavvy.com/how-to-avoid-common-online-travel-scams-4167617
• https://enchantedhoneymoons.com/travel-blog/avoid-these-online-travel-booking-scams/

POINT OF CONTACT

Please contact PMAJ ANGELICA STARLIGHT L. RIVERA, Chief, Personnel Records Management Section thru e-mail address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact us on telephone number (632) 7230401 local 3562 for any inquiries related to this CYBER SECURITY BULLETIN.