As Tet nears, flight ticket fraud thrives on social media

By Luu Quy   January 12, 2023 | 05:00 am PT
As Tet nears, flight ticket fraud thrives on social media
People look up at a screen for flight info at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, January 10, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
As year-end travel demands rise, more and more people are getting duped on social media by fake flight tickets that cost thousands of U.S. dollars.

Kim Tuyen, a 29-year-old office worker in HCMC, planned to fly back to her hometown in the central province of Quang Nam this Tet. On January 4, she saw an ad for flights on a Facebook page that claimed it was a retailer.

"My job at the end of the year is busy, so I did not have enough time to research flights," she said. "I saw that they [the Facebook page] were selling tickets, so I contacted them immediately."

The page has over 10,000 followers, so Tuyen believed it was legitimate.

Tuyen said the page gave her advice about tickets and flights just like any other retailer, but once she transferred VND1.9 million ($81.04), she got blocked. The Facebook account also vanished from the platform a few days later.

When she issued a warning about the fraud on a Facebook group in which members exchange flight tickets with one another, she found many others had also been tricked by the same page, costing them dozens of millions of Vietnamese dong. (VND10 million = US$426.53)

One victim even searched for the physical address displayed on the Facebook page, only to find out it was fake.

Le Huyen, another victim of the fanpage, said she only realized she was duped once she brought the physical ticket to the airport.

Vinh Tan, a student studying abroad in Canada, said he saw a Facebook account that claimed to be a flight ticket retailer posting ticket offers to students on a study abroad group. Tan contacted the account and pre-ordered two tickets for VND58 million. But once the money was transferred, the account blocked him.

Ngo Minh Hieu, founder of the Anti-phishing online project, said such tricks were nothing new, but have been on the rise over the past two months due to heightened travel demand.

Criminals have several methods to trick people, either by using fake websites or through social media accounts on Facebook, Zalo and the likes, he said.

"These groups post articles and run ads on Facebook to lure in victims. Once the money is sent, they either hand out fake tickets or outright cut contact," Hieu said, adding that people should only purchase flight tickets through official websites or authorized retailers.

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