Travellers targeted as scammers run wild on social media

Scammers intent on stealing money from unhappy travellers are running wild on social media. One easyJet passenger who complained on X (formerly Twitter) about a baggage issue was contacted by 10 scam accounts. Even 24 hours after they were reported to X, five were still running.

As The Independent first revealed in 2022, scammers based in East Africa are seeking to cash in on travellers’ complaints to airlines and holiday companies.

The criminals set up “imposter” accounts and respond to the complainant. They then ask for a phone number and contact the traveller by WhatsApp, and claim the travel firm’s customer service department has been outsourced to Kenya or Tanzania. They proceed with an elaborate fraud in which the customer is tricked into sending money on a remittance app.

Passengers on easyJet have been repeatedly targeted – starting in the summer of 2023, when the airline was cancelling thousands of flights.

The scam has become so rife that when Richard Knight complained on X about being charged for taking a bag on board a flight from London Gatwick to Palma de Mallorca, no fewer than 10 scam sites replied to him.

One, which has the handle @easyJet4ti, wrote: “Hi I’m sorry for the inconvenience and I’m here to help, please follow back and DM us for assistance.”

This scam account is still one of five functioning despite all 10 having been reported to X by The Independent.

Mr Knight, 47, copied in the British Airways X site on his complaint, and received several replies claiming to be from BA. One scam account, @BritishAir_Kl, gave exactly the same response as an easyJet fake, @easyJet_easy_. It read: “Hi, we apologize for the inconvenience. Please note that we have already escalated this matter to the relevant department, kindly follow back and DM your reachable number for quick assistance. Thank you. – Nicole.”

Another BA imposter claimed to be “Seen Dolye CEO British Airways”. The airline’s chief executive is Sean Doyle.

The easyJet passenger, Richard Knight, did not engage with the scam sites but made a second attempt to contact the airline’s official social media staff.

He wrote: “£48 for a bag that was just the wheels too big for the slot. Bunch of crooks F*** you, you greedy b******s hope you choke on the money.”

The easyJet X team replied: “Hi Richard . I am happy to help in any way I can, but further offence will result in the termination of the interaction as offensive language is not tolerated.- Thanks, Jay.”

A spokesperson for easyJet said: “We continue to report fake accounts to X so they can take any necessary action.

“We advise customers to only follow and engage with our sole official channel @easyJet, which is identifiable by the gold verification badge for official businesses, for the latest updates or to seek support and to be vigilant and to not engage with or click on any links from other accounts.”

British Airways has been invited to comment.

Attempts by The Independent to contact X have been met by the repeated response: “Busy now, please check back later.”

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