Travel scams shot up by 900 pc in 18 months: Booking.com

Scamsters use AI to launch attacks
2024-06-21
/
/ New Delhi
Travel scams shot up by 900 pc in 18 months: Booking.com
Travel scams shot up by 900 pc in 18 months: Booking.com

AI making harder to detect because it could generate realistic images and much more accurate text, in multiple languages

As global travel industry not only recovers but also breaks all previous records, so are travel scams increasing in tandem. Travel firm Booking.com warns that scams may have risen by 500-900 pc in the past 18 months.
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Artificial intelligence (AI) is driving an explosion in travel scams driven by a notable spike in phishing, one of the largest travel agencies Booking.com has warned.

Marnie Wilking

Marnie Wilking

At a recent technology conference in Toronto, Canada, the firm’s internet safety head, Marnie Wilking said there had been “anywhere from a 500 to a 900 pc increase” in the past 18 months.

She said that there has been a particularly marked increase in phishing, where people are tricked into handing over their financial details, since generative AI tools like ChatGPT burst onto the market.

“Of course, we have had phishing since the dawn of email, but the uptick started shortly after ChatGPT got launched. The attackers are definitely using AI to launch attacks that mimic emails far better than anything that they’ve done to date,” she added.

Phishing attacks often try to convince people to hand over their card details through by sending them fake, but very convincing looking, internet booking links.

In a statement, the company says that scammers often target websites like Booking.com and Airbnb because they allow people to list their own places to stay. After someone pays up, the scammers either vanish without a trace, leaving the buyer without a place to stay, or even try to scam them out of more money through follow-up messages.

Wilking warned that these sorts of scams have been around for decades, though they often come with telltale signs of fraud, such as spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

Wilking added that AI was making them harder to detect because it could generate realistic images and much more accurate text, in multiple languages.

She also called for hotels and travellers to use two-factor authentication that involves an additional security check, such as inputting a code sent to the customer’s phone, calling it the best way to combat phishing and credential stealing. She urged people also to be more vigilant than before when clicking on links.

But despite criticising how scamsters are using AI, Wilking said that technology was also allowing Booking.com to rapidly remove fake hotels that tried to scam people.

“We have set up AI models to detect those and either block them from getting on there to begin or take it down before there is any booking,” she said.

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