Bogus X accounts ‘impersonating every airline operating in UK’

A rise in scams where fake social media accounts are used to impersonate airlines has been discovered by Which?.

Bogus accounts exist for every major UK airline on X, formerly known as Twitter, and are regularly used to trick customers into giving away their personal data, according to the consumer group.

The scam often happens when a frustrated customer contacts an airline to try to resolve a problem.

Scammers trawl social media – often using bots, a type of automated software – to find such interactions.

They then respond to the query or complaint, hoping that the customer will not notice they are being contacted by a fake account.

It claimed that the social media network was too slow to take down offending accounts.

Which? said it had found bogus X accounts impersonating every major airline operating in the UK including British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, Ryanair, Tui, Virgin Atlantic and Wizz Air.

But reporting fake accounts to X “seems to have limited effect” and that most of the bogus posts and accounts it flagged “were still live at the time of writing”.

Which? gave the example of a researcher who contacted the genuine Wizz Air X account, @wizzair, asking if a flight was delayed, and almost immediately received responses from two fake accounts, the BBC reported.

“Both used near-identical language, apologising for the inconvenience, stating that they had ‘already escalated this matter to the relevant department’ and requesting a ‘reachable WhatsApp number for assistance’ via DM [direct message],” it said.

Which? also discovered that fake accounts are often quicker to respond than the genuine airlines, “but they also interrupt existing conversations between you and airlines, which can be harder to spot”.

X said accounts that impersonate organisations may be permanently suspended under its “misleading and deceptive identities policy”.

X told Which?: “All accounts you have mentioned have been suspended for violating the X rules.”

A Wizz Air spokesperson said: “We have seen a rise in fake accounts on X and we report as many unofficial accounts as possible. We continue to report fake social media accounts and would like to remind customers to never give their personal details out on these channels. Passengers should contact customer service via our claims or call centres. Details on how to contact us can be found on the Wizz Air website.”

An EasyJet spokesperson said: “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.

Jet2 told Which?: “We are aware of unverified accounts contacting customers on social media, and we have a proactive programme of communications to remind customers to be aware, and to report any suspicious activity. If we learn of any such activity taking place, our absolute priority is to let customers know so that any potential fraudulent activity can be prevented. We also report the account to the appropriate social media company, and we have a regular dialogue with them.”

Tui said: “We regularly monitor for any accounts impersonating Tui on social media and report accordingly for the online safety of our customers. Customers should ensure that they are only interacting with @tuiuk, which is marked with a blue tick next to it. If it is, then customers can be assured they are talking to Tui, if not they shouldn’t provide any details and should report the page so the social platform can take action.”

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