Criminals posing as Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines staff on X could siphon money from your account

There is a subtle but growing trend of criminals posing as airline staff on the X app with the intention of stealing from passengers frustrated with airlines.

We have found a couple of X handles posing as staff of Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines, who are reaching out to complaining passengers and offering to help them. But we have established that the individuals or groups behind these profiles have criminal intents. There could be a lot more, probably for other airlines.

One of the profiles has been written this way: @KenyaAirwaysn, with an ‘n’ at the end, and another profile @KQSupportor is linked to it.

Then there is one profile known as Rep Vanessa Supervisor Kenya Airways Manager with the handle; @manager94710 created in May 2024. One of the fake accounts claiming to be representing Ethiopian Airlines calls itself Representative Ethiopian Air with the handle @AskEthpn.

Last week a friend had travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo from Cameroon on Kenya Airways. But for four days, he hadn’t received his baggage. So I took to X to draw the attention of the airline to the issue and to call for speedy resolution of the issue, as this friend had no clothes to wear for his meetings.

Then one of the fake profiles liked the post and offered to assist. They asked for any WhatsApp number they could reach my friend on. I shared my friend’s number, at that time, believing that I was dealing with a genuine Kenya Airways staff. But in later conversations, my friend tells me, someone called him claiming to be an employee of Kenya Airways, asking for his travel details and offering him a compensation of $150 for his troubles. The person then asked him to provide an account for the deposit.

“They asked if I have a World Remit account, and I said I don’t, so they asked for my credit card details. I gave it to them, but they got back later to say it didn’t go through,” my friend told me. He then gave them another friend’s mPesa account for the transfer of the compensation, but it was never done.

What saved my friend was that, he had not informed his bankers back at home before he travelled, so, international withdrawals were not allowed on his debit card. The criminals had tried to withdraw money but were unsuccessful, as a result.

Then yesterday, another friend who had travelled from Lilongwe in Malawi to Accra on both Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines, arrived without his baggage.

In his frustration, he also took to X to complain to the Airlines, as he attempted to tag the airlines, he made the mistake of tagging the fake accounts. As usual, the fake accounts liked and reposted the post – Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines do not like nor repost X posts complaining about their services. So those reactions from these accounts should be red flags.

A further check of the accounts show that they were created in May and June this year. Indeed, one was created only this week, June 2024.

For a passenger whose baggage hasn’t arrived after travelling long distances, the experience can be frustrating and distressing, and so the person can easily fall victim to these scammers, considering the fact that they use the trick of offering compensation to gain access to a passenger’s travel and account details.

Be on the lookout, and don’t fall prey.

By Emmanuel K Dogbevi
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