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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)

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  • AJ says:

    “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. ”

    A reasonable proportion of spam spelling-and-grammar mistakes are not mistakes at all but are deliberately included to filter out those of a brighter cerebral disposition.

  • Nick says:

    1. Idiot!
    2. Why go to Facebook for this, rather than the company’s own website?
    3. This really demonstrates why sites like Facebook need regulation and to be held to account. If they had to reimburse where they allowed a scam they would soon take these pages down.

    • RussellH says:

      > Why go to Facebook for this, rather than the company’s own
      > website?

      Absolutely. I might add, why go to farcebook at all? (A friend of mine uses a different F-word which might not pass moderation.)

      • Rhys says:

        Probably because company websites often don’t have very visible contact information and so many people have got used to finding the company on social media!

        • RussellH says:

          If a company does not have clear contact details on its website, it is arguably acting illegally.
          For myself, I would never deal with a firm that does not publish proper contacts – should be phone no. (non premium and full postal address.)

          • Rhys says:

            I’m not saying they don’t publish them. But lots of companies make them hard to find – behind pages of FAQs and others. Often takes 3-5 clicks to actually find somewhere to speak to someone directly.

      • Rui N. says:

        You guys know that lots of company have customer service over Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp, right? For a lot of people that’s the first place they look, not a webpage where they’ve never been looking for a phone number that they barely know how to dial.

      • Bagoly says:

        Because many legitimate companies provide customer service through social media, and some are much more responsive on there than on their website.
        They have clouded the picture for consumers.

        Ten/twenty years ago, when the website was the most immediate medium they had, companies that were on the ball would put a notice (or at least a link to one) on their homepage if there was a major incident. Nowadays in the middle of a meltdown such the website often sails on serenely undisturbed, because immediate communication is considered to be something done on social media.
        I give a commendation to Easyjet who do maintain a bar near the top of their webpage which links to immediate announcements.
        And a “Needs Improvement” to BA who do now have such a bar, at this moment referring to storms (put up last week?) and where the link goes to a blank page!

  • ken says:

    Contrary to what many think, the most likely people to be scammed (investments in the US anyway) are male, degree educated, and see themselves as sucessful.

    Don’t forget the top 100 or so losers from Bernie Madoff were Hedge Funds, Banks, Insurers, Private Banks with a smattering of charity foundations.

    The smartest guys in the room indeed.

    I’d always be wary of claiming I’m way too clever to be scammed.

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      How many housewives or grannies invested in Madoff? Madoff’s Ponzi scheme was highly sophisticated where he printed real statements with fake numbers.

      In contrast, anyone could fall for these scams like the one in the article. Has nothing to do with ‘educated’. Read about the tinder swindler to start with.

      • ken says:

        I’m honestly not sure “printing real statements with fake numbers” and posting them by mail is a mark of high sophistication. Perhaps the genius of it was more to do with a Ponzi scheme paying out ‘only’ 10% so its longevity is more likely.
        Plenty of Jewish widows and grannies invested, just they dont make the top 100 list (roughly over $10 million)

        The point was more directed to those who consider themselves to clever, experienced, wealthy to be scammed.

        Clearly there is a whole panapoly of scams aimed at different audiences / marks

        • Simon says:

          what relevance is their religion?
          are you “to” clever to spell “too” ?

          • Ken says:

            Yes my spelling/typing on a phone is atrocious.
            The religion bit only relevant in that Madoff specifically targeted Jewish foundations, charities and individuals, and once we are past the financial institutions, that’s who most of the victims were.

            Depressingly it’s easier to scam victims if you share a faith, ethnicity or community.

            Bad enough to be scammed by a Nigerian advance fee fraud (other countries also applicable), worse (psychologically) if you introduced to a fraudster by a trusted friend , family member or someone in your church (other religious buildings also apply).

            Naturally there was an uptick in antisemitism from the same loonies who drip poison about George Soros on a regular basis (an extremely long list including Trump and Farage, alongside far right, Russians, and the far left).

          • Rob says:

            It is relevant here because Madoff targetted the Jewish community on the grounds that, as he was Jewish himself, investors could have more trust in him.

        • BuildBackBetter says:

          By ‘real statements with fake numbers’ I mean he used fake numbers that never stood out to a sophisticated investor. If he had claimed 80% returns, that would’ve stood out, as compared to, say, 8%. One of the reasons it went on for a pretty long time.
          This and many others like Wirecard – they are frauds, not scams impersonating someone else. Investors rely on auditors and regulators etc to avoid frauds. But when those auditors are incompetent or outright fraudulent, little can be done.

  • Panda Mick says:

    Perhaps if we all report it they might do something?

    Where’s that spineless oik Clegg when you need him?

  • Richard E says:

    I was originally going to write saying that many of the comments on here are a bit harsh.

    However, having reviewed the “Vueling Response” Facebook page, I’ve come to say that the headline for this article is sensationalist and unhelpful.

    I am not a regular Facebook user (stopped using it over 10 years ago), but any educated person would figure out there is something fishy about this account within a minute or two. For a start, searching for Vueling does come up with the official business account, whereas “Vueling Response” shows as a personal account – complete with (missing) friends and educational status. Furthermore, the level of personal details that the account asked the person in this article for should have raised alarm bells. To get a refund, when have you ever needed to provide all of the details needed to open up a bank account!

    I am not saying that this scam should be brushed aside, and thank HfP for reporting this. Like most scams, it will trick some people – if they are distracted, vulnerable, distraught, etc – and scams are a numbers game (it only takes 1 in 10,000 people to be conned). BUT to say in the headline that this should change people’s minds about how easy it is to be tricked is unhelpful – it’s likely that to reinforce the “I’m too smart to be scammed” brigade’s view.

    There are some scams that are so sophisticated that makes me pause for thought. This is not one of them.

    • JerrySignfield says:

      Yes exactly!

      First port of call is their official website, secondly from there you can usually find the official links to the contacts whether this is whatsapp/phone/facebook etc

  • Aliks says:

    “99% of scam attempts are obviously fake . . . . ”

    This is true but for a very good reason – scamming is a very Darwinian process.

    Scammers only continue to do things that actually work, and that means the victim has to go all the way through the process and lose money.

    Most scams work on the basis of scattering very large numbers of “bait messages” to get victims on the hook ready for a human agent to finish the job. When the scammer agent gets involved, it starts costing them time and effort, so don’t want the victim spotting the trap after half an hour on the phone.

    So you will often see messages or fake pages that look OK but when examined closely have spelling or grammatical errors, or other simple problems. These act to filter out the wary victims that will never actually transfer money, increasing the chances of a hitting the really gullible victims.

  • CamFlyer says:

    I was almost caught by a fake Emirates telephone number earlier this year. I couldn’t get through on the uk or UAE numbers, and was found a US number on a blog-style points website. I called, and got right through. I only became suspicious when the agent repeatedly asked for information that should have been visible in their systems, such as the original fare paid. Had I not had years of travel experience I wouldn’t have picked up on this. As it was I was so happy to reach an agent I almost provided credit card details.

  • @mkcol says:

    This & many other (similar) scams are well promoted on Action Fraud’s website.
    We worth a read to get familiar.

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