A whistleblower has revealed a scam where stolen information was used to con customers of hotel booking website, Booking.com.
BBC Radio 4’s Money Box was contacted by ‘Tom’ (a pseudonym), who said he was recruited through an international freelance telesales website as part of a fake call centre operation which had access to personal details from around the world.
Tom told Money Box he was offered $12 an hour for the work and spent around 12 days in the job, sitting at his home computer.
He said that he was supplied with long lists of Booking.com customers and could manage to call around 250 each day. Many were visitors travelling to London from countries such as Japan, China, India, and South Africa.
“We were told to call up people and tell them that they’ll receive an email… and if they have any questions they should get in touch with us,” Tom told Money Box.
“We had to say that we were calling from [the hotel into which the customer had booked] and we would send an email and it would appear that the hotel was sending them an email.” The email sent would ask for advance payment for the hotel booking with bank details which have no connection to the hotel.
If customers queried the payment they were directed to a fraudulent phone line, where the criminals had installed staff who posed as Booking.com employees, insisting that the hotel had changed their payment policies.
Customers have been refunded for the double payment, but the episode still represents a major security breach. Booking.com estimates that 10,000 people were affected.
‘Tom’ claims he was unaware that he was involved in criminal activity and agreed to speak to Money Box because he was angry at having become accidentally involved.