Airline Ticket Fraud- A growing trend in the United Arab Emirates

“Share this to get free tickets!” Ever come across this on the internet? You probably have. While some might genuinely be giving away free tickets for liking their Facebook page or sharing a piece of information on the internet, the majority of people who post such things are ‘fraudsters’. There are a few (if any) airlines around the world that are giving free tickets or money to people who share or like their page on social networking sites.

The majority of posts that pop up on the internet saying ‘share this to get free tickets’ are nothing but online scams. Unfortunately, many people in the United Arab Emirates and in other parts of the world have fallen prey to these scams. Scammers and malware suppliers set traps for online users and are always looking for ways to lure these users to follow web links that lead them to those traps. One way of trapping online users currently being employed by scammers, especially in the UAE, is offers of free airline tickets.

Nearly everyone in the UAE cities: Dubai and Abu Dhabi uses airline tickets. As a consequence, Airline tickets in the UAE have considerable value. However, the non-material nature of airline tickets and the fact that they quite expensive forces people to believe that a business might actually be giving away free tickets as part of their advertising/ promotional campaign. This thought-process is what scammers take advantage of. The scammers use Facebook or the mail to spread links that claim to offer free airline tickets to those who follow the links.

The scammers ask unwary users to click on links that look like Facebook ‘share’ buttons. People who follow the links are led to pages that prompt the user to provide a considerable amount of personal information, fill out lengthy survey forms and sign up to costly and difficult-to-cancel ‘Reward Offers’. In the UAE alone, airline ticket fraud has amounted to over $250 million. Recently, Dubai Police arrested six people of various nationalities involved in airline ticket fraud.

The suspects allegedly created fake accounts on social media sites to give away ‘free’ airline tickets and made millions of dollars through it. The arrests were possible due to the cooperation of Airlines such as Emirates and payment services such as American Express, Visa, and MasterCard. However, the people arrested are only a few of the ‘many’ such scammers operating in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Before getting arrested, one of the fraudsters managed to make $ 1 million by offering fake ‘free’ tickets online. The scammers make money from victims by luring them with ‘free ticket offers’ in return for credit card and other valuable information. While people who fall for these offers don’t get any free tickets, the scammers manage to ‘steal’ a considerable amount of money from them. Therefore, people living in the United Arab Emirates as well as in other parts of the world need to be wary of the ‘free’ airline ticket offers that pop up on the internet.