Fraud alert: hear a scammer impersonating an agent to make a booking

By Linsey McNeill
Home » Fraud alert: hear a scammer impersonating an agent to make a booking

Operators are being urged to tighten their security after a woman was caught pretending to be a travel agent to make a fake booking with Bedbank.

The scammer told the Bedbank advisor that she was Janette Healey of Shenfield-based The Travel Boutique, a member of the Midcounties consortium.

She said she was struggling to make a booking online and offered to give Janette’s ABTA number as proof of ID.

 Fortunately for Janette, her husband Peter, coincidentally, owns Bedbank so the advisor knew her well and realised that the woman was a scammer.

 But other agents weren’t so lucky and when Janette posted the recording of the scammer’s voice in Travel Gossip’s Facebook group, some revealed they’d been targetted by the same person.

 You can hear her voice here:

Another said she’d tried to book a holiday with them to Dubai.

“This woman is possibly someone who has worked in travel or who knows the industry well,” Janette told Travel Gossip. “The fact she offered the ABTA number, that she knew I’d have an account with Bedbank, it’s very worrying because this is a new kind of scam where people don’t even need to use stolen credit cards, they know they can book holidays just by impersonating an agent.

“My ABTA number is out there for the world to see, scammers can use this to book a holiday direct with a supplier on the agent’s account, no payment necessary.”

Janette is calling on suppliers to tighten their security to protect travel agents from such scams.

“Scams have been around for decades, people calling agents to book trips using stolen credit cards, we can spot these a mile off, but this new scam is taking it to a whole new level.

“One operator I know took a £25k booking from a scammer who impersonated an agent and got the operator to send the tickets to a different email address to the one they had on file. That shouldn’t have happened.

“Operators often don’t check an agent’s identity, so it’s like someone walking into a bank and saying ‘hi, I’m Janette Healey, this is my address, give me £25k.”

Responding to Janette’s post on Travel Gossip, agents called for all operators to introduce passwords for agents to verify their identity. Some, like Gold Medal, already do this, said Janette, but many don’t.

“We need the industry to act collectively to tighten security to protect agents, we need to protect each other” added Janette. “This fraudster has found a loophole and we need to close it, fast.”

Earlier this month, Travel Gossip saved an agent from a £2,350 fraud when another member of our Facebook group posted a warning about the scam. Read more: Travel Gossip saves agent from £2,350 booking scam

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