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If you think you’re too smart for fake websites, this Vueling one may change your mind

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An impressive fake Vueling Facebook page is out there, conning money out of people looking for refunds for Vueling flights. And, of course, there are a lot of people out there who are struggling to get refunds from Vueling for flights cancelled during the pandemic …..

I’d say that 99% of the spam emails I get are so poor as to be laughable. The problem is that this makes you immune to the other 1% which are being run by someone with a decent brain.

My wife was only saved from a dodgy ‘you need to pay us to redeliver this parcel’ scam recently because she had to ask me for her bank account number. When my iPhone was stolen last year, I received a hugely convincing set of ‘find my phone’ messages, allegedly from Apple, which asked for my log-in ID.

Vueling scam

Take a look at this Facebook page, called Vueling Response. (EDIT: Facebook has now removed the page after our article was published.)

It looks realistic. It IS realistic, to the extent that all of the content and images are cut and pasted from the official Vueling Facebook page.

Here is our reader’s story when he messaged that Facebook page to enquire about a refund:

“I bought a flight by mistake recently and, as I did numerous times in the past, I requested a refund as a flight credit. Usually, flight credit requests are processed within minutes. This time it took hours, then days. I got a bit puzzled and thought that it was time to involve Vueling’s customer service team.

I wrote to them on Facebook via the Vueling Response page. All looked legit. I was surprised to hear that my transaction was flagged up for some reason (maybe because I bought the flight and decided to request a refund in a few minutes? Not sure). The customer service agent was very efficient and somewhat even demanding / borderline pushy. She said I need to verify my identity with their payment provider Mercuryo which also seems legit – I googled them before proceeding.

The agent told me to register and to verify my identity: code via email/phone, then upload ID and take a selfie – the usual stuff that internet banks like Monzo, Monese, etc do when they want to verify their clients’ identity. I did all that, while the agent was chasing me with status updates, asking me to send her screenshots of where I am.

After I got everything confirmed (phone/email, selfie, and ID – a snap of the photo page of the British passport in my case) I saw a weird screen with various cryptocurrencies and fields to enter my bank card and options to top up or withdraw funds. The agents asked me to enter my bank card and to buy crypto!

I asked her if this is a scam – she said no of course not. What next? She wanted to me buy crypto for the amount I am owed by Vueling (46.99 Euros) I told them that first, it doesn’t make any sense for me to buy something for the amount owed to me, and second I am not buying such volatile assets as crypto for Vueling! Sounds absurd! 🙂

At that moment my account page on the website was showing that my account is verified. I did provide one of my electronic cards with a few Euros on it and the system took 1 Euro to authorize the card. So from my point of view, it was enough to verify who I am, but Vueling was not convinced and was pushing me to buy crypto! I asked if there is another way to verify my identity, but she said no. As soon as I buy crypto, the system will refund me the purchase amount plus what I am owed for the flight credit.”

Here is a screenshot from the call (click to enlarge):

Vueling Response scam

Our reader didn’t lose any money in the end. He has, of course, provided a scan of his passport, a selfie, his email address, mobile number and his bank card details to the scammers, so this is unlikely to end well.

Whilst not strictly ‘miles and points’, I thought this story was worth flagging. Because of the inability of most airlines to answer the telephone at the moment, they are exposing customers to scams like this as they try to seek alternative methods of contact.

Comments (102)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • ChasP says:

    surely its easy to spot a fake airline website – if they list a telephone number that’s answered in less than an hour I would be very suspicious

    • RussellH says:

      I had no problems at all contacting Vueling by phone in summer 2020, and absolutely no hassle getting my refund either.
      But it was all over the phone – about 3 calls in all, all ansewred within a couple of minutes.

      Unlike the other airlines often featured here!

    • Rob says:

      I just read a novel (won’t name it, as on BBC later in the year) where the criminal – who is impersonating a social worker – gives themselves away by returning a telephone call immediately, something a real social worker never does …..

  • R01 says:

    Scary stuff. Maybe British Airways need a few scam websites like this – and some well publicised victims – to encourage them to turn on refund functionality and sort their customer service wait times. What a shambolic situation they have created!

  • Dawn says:

    Wow. This is frightening. Thanks for the article.

  • ChrisC says:

    Perhaps if more people reported the page Facebook might take it down.

    It’s so bad that their screenshots of real articles from the proper Vueling page included the angry and other emojis!

    • mark says:

      You are having a laugh right? I know of a couple of legit companies who’ve had various fake Facebook and Instagram accounts created. Facebook refuse to take them down
      Even when customers have provided proof they’ve been scammed. They have to use a third party Russian company to “get rid of them” in one instance Facebook took the legitimate page down as the scammers had convinced Facebook the real website was a scam.

      It seems that as long as a scam page is paying to advertise they don’t care

    • Ian says:

      Agree. Facebook will remove pages which fake other companies.

  • Nick says:

    What’s Facebook?

    • WaynedP says:

      A mega, Meta-Tiger with a Zuckerberg desperately clinging to its tail.

    • Gordon says:

      Exactly I don’t entertain any social media. Mind you I’m getting on a bit now so probably born in the wrong era ☹️

    • Jonathan says:

      Where do you live ? Pluto ?!?

      Virgin Galactic might be able to travel there soon !

  • Cat says:

    I mean, isn’t the absence of a blue tick a bit of a giveaway?

    • Cat says:

      …also it’s set up as a person’s page, not a business account.

      I always look at the “about” page of a business, to see how long ago it was set up, and if it’s changed its name. If you go to the Vueling Response “about” page, it says “no workplaces to show” “no schools to show” “no relationship info to show”, as it would if you wanted FB to mind its own business, and didn’t share that info.

    • ChrisC says:

      Even the most reliable of sites don’t always have the blue tick.

      The HfP page is a sea of blue but nary a tick to be seen.

    • Panda Mick says:

      ^^^^^ This. Whilst it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be wary (I mean, *anything* on facebook can’t be trusted), it does help

      But, giving you credit card deets over messenger? Good that the reader was wary.

    • Rob says:

      You think? I mean, you’re scrabbling around the internet, trying to find a way of getting hold of someone after sitting on the phone for hours with no answer …. are you really going to notice?

      • Cat says:

        I would notice @Rob. To be fair, this is largely because the sheer number of friends who post “the winner of our caravan competition never claimed their prize, so one lucky person who likes and shares this post will win a caravan worth £x,000” *ALL THE TIME*, so I’m quite familiar with checking the “about” information (and discovering that the page was only set up 3 days ago, and this is their only post ever) process!

  • John says:

    When have you ever needed to send a passport scan and a selfie and verify possession of a phone number and email address to get a refund? Also why bother continuing with the conversation once you’ve caught on?

    Just because Monzo requires it to open an account is not a reason to blindly accept this for something completely different.

    Giving scammers the information Monzo asks for when opening an account means they can open a Monzo account in your name.

    If you gave them enough information to request a refund from Vueling, the worst that could happen is that they steal your refund.

    I expect that in 20-30 years time I am likely to get scammed by someone smart, but it would need to be a lot more convincing than this.

    • PeteM says:

      Spot on, I really struggle to understand how someone could have continued with the conversation and provided this level of detail…

    • RussellH says:

      When I get asked for a “selfie” by a legitimate organisation (does happen very rarely though) I tell them that I do not have any way of doing so.
      The need for the “selfie” just disappears magically.

      • Erico1875 says:

        I’m trying to get my phone number added to Melia Rewards, which is needed to do a points transfer. They want a passport scan to prove I am the account holder

  • Lilly says:

    Have reported the page as a scam. Would encourage all to do the same, it takes 20 seconds.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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