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Making money with fraudulently acquired flight tickets is this easy

Fraud is a subject that affects the entire tourism industry. Reason enough for the German Travel Association (DRV) to place the phenomenon at the front and center of its first Fraud Prevention Day. My colleague Özgür Ekici and I attended, and demonstrated to around 100 guests just how easy criminals sometimes have it.

I suspect that it was a rare sight to see so many members of the police force at a DRV event. Held in Berlin, the Fraud Prevention Day was attended by a range of police departments, each with several representatives. After all, it is a subject that is in everyone’s interest, but one – as all agreed – that nobody likes to talk about.

Alongside our own presentation, there were other experts who threw light on the aspect of payment fraud from a variety of perspectives. Like the retail electronics industry, the tourism industry is particularly affected by the phenomenon. A fact confirmed by Dirk Zimmermann, who is responsible for investigating cybercrime at the credit card provider American Express. According to estimations, the travel industry loses one percent of its revenues to fraud. In addition, there are the lost revenues of potential customers who are unjustly categorized as fraud operators by the systems in place.

The fact that the respective alarm mechanisms are so restrictive is because the obstacles to committing fraud are no longer particularly difficult to overcome. Little criminal efforts are required and not even the help of the Darknet. Together with my colleague Özgür Ekici, we demonstrated how simple it has become to commit fraud in under 30 minutes.

By pretending to purchase a flight, we demonstrated the required steps live in front of the audience. Once we were done, we had shown how we would have made a profit of around 850 euros with minimal effort and with no risk, because none of the steps we used can be traced.

So, faced with millions of potential fraud cases, is it a difficult time for travel companies? It doesn’t have to be. Once you have implemented the most common security measures, you’re on a good track to prevent fraud attempts. Just like burglars, fraudsters usually go the easy way: They shake the door a few times and when they notice that it’s too difficult to get it, they move on to the next house.

Fraud is and remains a relevant topic in the tourism industry – this was clearly shown at the Fraud Prevention Day. It emphasized that travel companies need competent and experienced partners to help them close security gaps.


Source: Original article by Tobias Pusch,
published in fvw, a trade magazine for tourism and business travel


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