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ARC Cautions Travel Agents about Massive Fake Ticketing

Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), connecting airlines with travel agents in USA to settle related financial matters, has cautioned the travel sellers for being vigilant of e-mails that could be fraudulent given there's an increasing incidence of illegal sale of tickets, published travelmarketreport.com dated December 15, 2011.

The Corporation reports that during August-November 2011, it received complaints of 82 such incidences, accounting for 73% of the entire number of instances reported during 2011. During 2010, ARC got reports of merely 18 such instances. The illegitimately sold tickets of 2011 have a total face value of above $1m, with the highest value being around $77,000 in one instance, ARC informs.

The Corporation stated that the reported rise in illegitimate sale of tickets was because of phishing e-mails that increasingly targeted travel agents.

Talking about phishing e-mails, Director of Operations Integrity, Chuck Fischer at ARC stated that these, which posed as messages from a trustworthy sender, had gotten harder to detect. Previously these were extremely raw and poorly-crafted having misspellings, whereas now these had become highly sophisticated with the logo of the Global Distribution Systems (GDSs) included as well as the names of company officers attached, Fischer explained. Travelmarketreport.com reported this.

Additionally, according to ARC, the phishers had created "spear phishing" methods wherein the fraudulent e-mails addressed the travel agency or its employee by name. If fraudsters could get to know of the GDS credentials of the agency/employee, they could arbitrarily sell tickets.

Moreover, Fischer stated that the fraudulent techniques of paying imbibed some form of combination; conventionally, the preferred technique included compromising of credit cards, while lately there was also the seizing of cash.

He further said that ARC along with other major players of the industry educated agents about the way for recognizing the above phishing e-mails as also shunning fake web-links. Starting August 2011, GDSs had observed that the phishing messages appeared in several versions online, while the Systems had been assiduously working towards closing the fake sites. Often, ARC grouped with airlines, GDSs, travel agencies, as well as law enforcement for recognizing and stopping the use of illegitimate flight tickets, Fischer ended.

Related article: ARC Alerts About phishing Scam Targeting its Agencies

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