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Fraudulent airline ticket orders on the rise, reporting group says

LAXatXMAS
The number of fraudulent airline tickets ordered in the U.S. has surged recently, with more than $1 million in unauthorized tickets issued in the last few months.

The Airline Reporting Corp., the Arlington, Va.-based company that settles transactions between the nation's airlines and travel agents, reported Monday 82 incidents of unauthorized tickets ordered from August to November.

The face value of the fraudulent tickets in 2011 is more than $1 million, with the largest single incident valued at more than $77,000, according to ARC.

In contrast, Airline Reporting reported only 18 such incidents of fraudulent ticket orders in 2010.

The company attributes the surge in fraudulent tickets to online scams targeting travel agents. The scammers send "phishing emails" to travel agents that appear to have been sent from the global distribution systems that provide travel agents the ability to book and issue airline tickets, according to ARC. The agents who open the email are directed to  log in to a fraudulent website and type in their credentials to order tickets.

Airline Reporting publicized the increase in fraudulent ticket orders to warn travel agents to be on the lookout for such email scams.

“ARC has banded together with other industry leaders to educate agents on how to identify these illegal emails and avoid navigating to fraudulent links,” said Chuck Fischer, director of operations integrity at ARC.

Airline Reporting settles about 45% of all airline ticket transactions in the country. It does not report on tickets purchased by customers directly from the airlines.

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-- Hugo Martin

Photo: Passengers submit boarding passes at Los Angeles International Airport. Credit: Los Angeles Times. 

 
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