Updates made to industry’s intelligence database of fraudsters

Travel agents will be able to report and search for bogus websites following updates to the industry’s only intelligence database of fraudsters.

The Travel Industry Intelligence Hub, a web-based encrypted database of confirmed fraudsters, has negotiated for agents to have access to domain name suppliers via a reporting system called Domain Trust.

The agreement means agents can report fraudulent sites, or search those already reported, to domain name suppliers, which handle the reservation of domain names and the assignment of IP addresses to those domain names.

The suppliers help enforcement bodies, such as the police, to take down sites. The IP addresses of domain names can be blocked or sites taken down by the suppliers.

More than 100,000 websites are reported to Domain Trust every week by organisations worldwide including regulators and the police.

Barry Gooch, chairman of anti-fraud trade group Profit, said the new reporting system was rolled out last week and training had begun for agency consortia members of the intelligence hub’s business module, which also has an encrypted GDPR-compliant database of companies that have been involved in fraud.

Gooch stressed the new reporting system was “not perfect”, but said: “It’s a valuable tool. Agents can see if their website name has been spoofed. It’s the first time they have had the opportunity to do this.

“Bogus websites divert customers to another website and firms lose business. It’s a major pathway for fraud; fraudsters will set up sites that sound like a travel company or have similar names.

“The offers will look legitimate and they will often book the trip for the consumer but not pay the supplier.

“This issue has been bubbling away for a long time and we get reports of it on a fairly regular basis.”

Until now, agents could only report the issue to Action Fraud, the reporting centre for economic and cybercrime in the UK, and there is no guarantee of further action being taken.

Current users of the intelligence hub include Abta, Aito, The Advantage Travel Partnership, The Travel Network Group, Hays Travel, Midcounties Co-operative,Protected Trust Services and the Civil Aviation Authority.

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