Beware: Fraudster Airline Agencies
Consider a customer of the fraudster-operated travel agency that just got the travel deal of a lifetime. He was able to purchase a $1,000 airline ticket for just $200. But advised by the dealer to purchase his ticket under a different identity, the cybercriminal is then referred to another underground service provider that can provide him with a stolen passport to be anyone he wants to be to make his trip. The cybercriminal has decided he is going to take a European vacation so he will need a passport.
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(Website setup by Cybercriminals for fraudulent activity)
Legitimate online travel agencies are getting competition from the darkest corners of the Internet – the black market. Fraudster travel agencies are springing up all over the cybercriminal underground and offering unbeatable prices for worldwide airline tickets to other fraudsters. How are they able to do it? There are two main ways they accomplish this:
The most common way is to use stolen credit cards to purchase airline tickets. A recently released report1 showed that airlines lost nearly $1.4 billion in 2010 due to online payment fraud. As you can see in Figure 1, a criminal offering a fraudster- operated ticketing service offers to sell tickets for any kind of travel with a “99.99% assured success” rate and at only 20-30% of the face value of the ticket. (Of course, the criminal buyer pays the fraudulent ticket agency using a stolen card, as well).
The second way, while not nearly as common but growing in popularity, is to secure access to consumers’ loyalty and rewards program accounts and cash out available points in exchange for travel vouchers. RSA has witnessed multiple phishing attacks recently targeting airline customers with the goal of obtaining their login credentials in order to monetize their reward points.
Source: “2011 Airline Online Fraud Report by RSA”