Travel agent arrested for fleecing frequent flyers
Delhi Police has unearthed a major scam involving tens of thousands of pounds with the arrest of a travel agent who allegedly siphoned off ‘mileage points’ of British Airways frequent travellers and redeemed them, a case that has underlined frailty of cyber security.
The accused, identified as Damanpreet Singh owns a travel agency in central Delhi’s Jhandewalan area and used to accumulate and redeem mileage points (Avios) of frequent flyers using multiple fake accounts and then sell the tickets to his clientele.
In a statement, the British Airways <g data-gr-id="32">said</g> “We are assisting the police in India with an investigation into alleged fraudulent activity.
“We would like to reassure customers that none of our systems have been illegally accessed and no Executive Club members have had their data accessed or frequent flyer points stolen.”
According to the police, 32-year-old Singh allegedly used to keep tab on clients who were loyal to British Airways as it would give ‘mileage points’ to such flyers on the basis of distance travelled in a particular year.
Those points could again be collectively used as currency for buying fresh tickets pertaining to the same company. Sources said he has so far stolen around 2 million mileage points and each point is worth around £1.5.
“British Airways provided the details of the IP addresses which were used for unauthorised extraction of the Avios points. In this regard, investigation was carried out and it was revealed that the all the activities pertaining to these IP addresses are being carried out from Jhandewalan Area. On this, information was developed and M/s Kripa Travels was identified,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav said.
Yadav said that the accused used to access the database of tickets booked by other agents and steal the data and thereafter open fake executive club accounts using the ticket details to redeem the Avios points by booking new tickets.
“He later utilised those points to buy international air tickets and sold them to other clients, charging them full amount for the same,” said the police official.
Singh has been booked under Sections 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery) and 471 (forgery with respect to electronic documents) of IPC and relevant sections of IT Act, the official added.