Don't get stung by these fake holiday cyber-scams this summer

(Image credit: Gustavo Frazao / Shutterstock)

Scammers everywhere are trying to capitalize on the return of travel to relieve people of their hard-earned money, a new report suggests.

Researchers from Kaspersky have discovered a couple of elaborate schemes, in which fraudsters impersonate ticket aggregators, airline services, rental services, accommodation and ticket lotteries as they try to trick people into giving away money and sensitive data.

The cybersecurity firm said it found “numerous fake websites” that claim to offer users the chance to buy airplane tickets cheaper. Usually, these sites are “well-made” phishing pages, impersonating famous airline services and air ticket aggregators. To make the sites even more believable, the fraudsters sometimes display the details of real flights, pulled from legitimate data sources. 

Should users try to purchase any tickets using these services, not only will they lose their money, but they’ll also have given away sensitive data to the fraudsters, which can later be sold on the black market or used for identity theft.

Boosting authenticity with fake reviews

The second example is even more sinister. According to Kaspersky, scammers are offering a luxury two-bedroom apartment close to the center of a European capital, for just €500 a month, and a four-bedroom house with a pool and a fireplace for €1,000 a month.

To make the offer believable, the offerings come with multiple fake reviews, praising the accommodation and describing the hosts as hospitable and friendly people. 

Just as in the previous example, if anyone pays for the service, they’ll lose both their money and give away sensitive information.

For Mikhail Sytnik, security expert at Kaspersky, if an offer appears too good to be true, it probably is. “We urge users to be skeptical about overly generous offers,” he said. 

Fraudsters have always used current events to scam people, and post-lockdown summer vacations are no different. They used the same tactics during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Olympic Games, as well as the World Cup. Besides tricking people into giving away money and data, they often use these events to distribute ransomware, infostealers and other forms of malware.

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Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.