Scammers target airline customers with fake social media accounts

Scammers target airline customers with fake social media accounts
Wizz Air is among the major airlines operating in the UK affected by scammers (Image credit: Adobe Stock)

Scammers are using fake social media accounts to con customers attempting to contact airlines with queries and complaints, it has emerged.

According to the UK consumer watchdog Which?, fraudsters are impersonating trusted airlines “with ease”.

Fake X (formerly Twitter) accounts now exist for every major carrier operating in the UK – scammers are using the social media profiles to pose as airline customer service reps to steal sensitive data.

Which? reports that accounts impersonating companies are using bots (a type of automated software) to quickly find customers attempting to contact airlines.

They then respond to customers’ queries or complaints hoping they won’t notice they’re being contacted by a fake account.

An example of fraudsters attempting to trick a customer with almost identical responses (Credit: Which?) 

Both used near-identical language, apologising for the inconvenience, stating that they had “already escalated this matter to the relevant department” and requesting a “reachable WhatsApp number for assistance” via DM (direct message).

The watchdog said it found examples of scammers impersonating customer service reps for British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, Ryanair, Tui, Virgin Atlantic and Wizz Air.

Which? also discovered that fake accounts are often quicker to respond than the real airlines, but they also interrupt existing conversations between customers and airlines, which makes them harder to spot.

The organisation found examples of scammers asking for enough data to commit identity fraud or sell on to other criminals.

Fraudsters will often ask customers to send them DMs containing their phone number and other sensitive data – and may ask for a book reference or flight number to appear legitimate.

Another scammer impersonating Ryanair customer service staff (Credit: Which?)

They may also direct customers to click on links to phishing websites that harvest card details, claim they are entitled to compensation or owed a small fee to resolve the issue to trick users into downloading a payment app or pay for a blue tick verification to appear legitimate.

An easyJet spokesperson said: “We continue to report fake accounts to X so they can take any necessary action and we advise customers to only follow and engage with our sole official channel @easyJet, which is identifiable by the gold verification badge for official businesses, for the latest updates or to seek support and to be vigilant and to not engage with or click on any links from other accounts.”

A Wizz Air spokesperson said: “We have seen a rise in fake accounts on X and we report as many unofficial accounts as possible.

“We continue to report fake social media accounts and would like to remind customers to never give their personal details out on these channels.

“Passengers should contact customer service via our claims or call centres. Details on how to contact us can be found on the Wizz Air website.”

ARGS has contacted Which? for further comment.