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Festival coming: airfare fraud up sharply online

Updated: Sep 3,2014 2:51 PM     Xinhua

Fake websites for helping residents book flight tickets are increasing sharply with the Mid-Autumn Festival just around the corner, according to a report by China’s security software giant.

Qihoo 360, one of the largest technology companies in the country, said that its security software has blocked phishing websites claiming to provide flight ticket booking almost 100,000 times recently, and the number is still rising.

Residents will have a three-day holiday for the festival, which falls on Sept 8 this year, and airlines often provide cheap tickets at that time, the report said.

The blocked websites posted tickets with unrealistically low prices, aiming to attract — and trap — travelers, the report said.

A man surnamed Song from Wuxi, Jiangsu province, said he paid 471 yuan ($77) with his credit card online to book a ticket from Wuxi to Xiamen in Fujian province.

“When I asked the website to confirm whether the ticket has been booked or not, I received a reply telling me the ticket was sold out and my money would be refunded in three days,” Song said. “When I checked the next day, the website had no reply.”

The man later found he had been cheated by a website pretending to book flights.

A resident from Qingdao, Shandong province, surnamed Hu, is in the same boat with Song. He was cheated out of 3,310 yuan when he attempted to book two tickets from Shenzhen, Guangdong province, to Qingdao.

“The website refused to return my money when I realized I made a mistake in the booking and even asked me to pay commission charges,” Hu said, adding that the security software of Qihoo 360 had warned him that the website was fake.

Frauds on the Internet are diverse, and they tend to spring up from January to June, the report said.

It said that men are often cheated by online games, as well as by financial schemes, and they lost more as they made friends on social websites.

Women were usually trapped in online shopping schemes, especially when buying medicines to help them lose weight, the report said.

Of the online frauds identified in the report, almost 60 percent of victims were between 16 and 25 years old; the youngest was only 10. Residents born in the 1990s have become the main target in cyberswindles, it said.