Travel Agent Fraud Alert

Tourism Tattler came across the following scam perpetrated against a travel agent and thought it worthy of bringing to our readers’ attention. 

Imagine being conned by a smooth-talking, well-dressed client who buys more than 67 air tickets worth R445 000 in one month using 21 different credit cards issued by six different overseas banks? It’s not a tall story. It happened to a travel consultant who followed all the correct credit card authentification procedures.

“Because the agent had gone through the right procedures, the client wasn’t liable for the loss but her bank nevertheless refused to do business with her afterwards and took away her credit card facility. So effectively, this crook closed down her business!” said credit card fraud expert Christo Snyman, director of Mazaris Forensic Services at Asata’s Regional Four meeting in Cape Town last month.

He warned that fraudsters were targeting the travel industry, using skimming devices to encode counterfeit credit cards that they then presented to travel agencies.

“Be on the look out!” he cautioned. “These guys are so clever because they are doing it every day; it’s their business. Make sure you follow full authentification procedures by making an imprint, swiping the card, getting the authorisation code, comparing signatures and getting the client’s full residential address and landline telephone number.

When dealing with online transactions, be wary of those from East African destinations. Also beware of fraudsters using emails and posing as one of your existing clients.

The good news was, said Christo, that fraud losses on credit cards issued in South Africa had decreased by 18 % from R367, 4m in 2011 to R300, 6m in 2012.  Counterfeit credit cards decreased by 45% in 2012, mainly because banks successfully rolled out credit cards with pin and chip security features. However, what was concerning, he said was that counterfeit credit cards made up 38% of overall credit card fraud in South Africa.

Article republished with acknowledgment to Travel News Weekly and Hilka Birns.

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