Increase in airline-targeted scammers on X

Aviation enthusiast Jason Rabinowitz, who goes by the handle of @AirlineFlyer and co-hosts FlightRadar24’s AvTalk podcast, says there has been a dramatic increase on X (formerly know as Twitter) in fake accounts responding to passenger tweets to airlines over flight delays and customer service issues.

In an interview with Fast Company, Rabinowitz said: “Before the changes to the verification system on Twitter, there were definitely bots trying to scam people, but never really in a concerted, coordinated, targeted way like we’re seeing [now].”

Under the platform’s previous verification system, Twitter would confirm that an account belonged to the business in question before bestowing a verification badge, but Elon Musk overhauled the process after taking over the site in 2022, now charging for the verification.

X now operates various verification tiers, with the gold ‘organisational verification’ badge costing $1,000 per month. Some major carriers pay for this gold badge verification, while many others don’t, making it difficult to determine whether an account is genuine or not.

Rabinowitz ran a test to trigger bots by making a post tagging several airlines and using words such as ‘cancelled’, ‘delay’ and ‘help’. A few accounts purporting to be from British Airways and Lufthansa responded, asking Rabinowitz to direct message them his WhatsApp number.

Rabinowitz says scammers ask for info such as an email address and flight confirmation number, then use that info to book a flight. They then ask for payment via PayPal for the courtesy – something that could easily have cost nothing with the real airline.

“At the end of the day, you might not even know that you were scammed because the service you wanted was actually rendered,” Rabinowitz says.

Even if people realise they’ve been scammed, once they have shared private information, scammers have the leverage of just cancelling their flight.

“Once that happens, you’re not likely to have any real recourse with the airline,” Rabinowitz adds. “The moment you provide that information, you are potentially in a lot of trouble.”

According to Rabinowitz, the best way to get customer service from an airline used to be using Twitter. But now, if an airline doesn’t have a gold check mark… “I would confirm that the account I’m looking at is the real deal,” Rabinowitz adds.

Image accredited to @airlineflyer 

Author: FTN Editor

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