Hundreds of airline travelers, including Nigerians and foreigners have been victims of aviation flight ticket frauds valued at about N52.6bn based on the real GDP for 2020, National Daily findings have revealed.
These fraudulent activities have not escaped the attention of airlines. Critics were stunned when Air Peace Limited published a Fraud Alert on its website. The airline asked unsuspecting customers to be wary of fraudsters who claimed to be staff or agents of the airline.
It stated, “Our attention has been drawn to a certain “Google My Business” page on the web impersonating the Air Peace brand with the aim of defrauding unsuspecting members of the public by requesting that money be paid into the operator’s private accounts for flight tickets.”
Findings revealed that these criminals use stolen, compromised or hacked credit card details to buy airline tickets and offer these tickets for sale at bargain prices via professional-looking websites or social networking accounts, which appear to be for legitimate travel agencies or agents.
And they ask for immediate payment, typically by cash, bank transfer or virtual currencies. After payment has been made, the victim receives the flight booking confirmation – with their original purchase details deleted.
According to experts, these kinds of fraud being uncovered in the aviation sector could not be perpetrated alone, but required a network of people across the sector and the regulator.
One of the experts, an IT expert, Akin Adeniji explained that in most cases, there is some internal collusion as some of the fraudsters were staff of airlines who know the nitty-gritty of airline operations.
“Most of the fraudsters understand the operations of the airlines like the back of their palms. I suggest the regulator and airlines should emulate the CBN and commercial banks on the aggressive approach of the latter to warn their consumers against disclosing their personal identification numbers to strangers.”
Another expert warned that when passengers are purchasing tickets from a company they don’t know and trust, they should carry out some research first, such as searching the company’s name on the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) website.
“Don’t pay for tickets by bank transfer as it offers you little protection if you become a victim of fraud. Never reveal any personal or financial detail as a result of an unsolicited call, email or text. Don’t be deceived if someone knows your basic details because they may not be genuine.