Common AI scams to be mindful of when booking holidays this summer

Recent ABTA research reveals that 83% of people booked their holiday online in the last year, but with 6,640 reports of holiday booking-related fraud in 2023, it is vital consumers are aware of the potential dangers of booking holidays and flights online.

With this in mind, the experts at AI prompt management tool AIPRM have compiled their top AI scams to be mindful of this year, as well as tips on the warning signs to look out for, and how to avoid them.

Common AI scams to be mindful of this summer

  1. AI Generated Websites

A key danger to be aware of whilst holiday searching are AI generated websites. These can be created by scammers, who utilise AI to create fake websites that can lure customers into providing their bank details to secure their chosen location for their getaway.

The links to these websites may also be sent to consumers via email or social media, and may offer discounted prices to attract them. Therefore, it is always recommended to use well-known, established websites, such as www.expedia.com, with adequate protection and company credentials.

  1. Fake AI listings and reviews

When utilising reputable websites, scammers can still advertise fake listings for holidays and hotels. A key feature to be aware of is that these will often redirect you to pay for your stay outside of the official website page. It is therefore advised to stay away from any advertised accommodation which prompts you to pay outside of the official site, or asks for a bank transfer.

If you are unsure of the legitimacy of a listing, always check the number and quality of reviews, as scammers could also use AI to write fake reviews to their fake listings.

Scammers can also use AI to advertise fake flight prices, or use third party websites to offer cheaper prices. Once you purchase from these sites, you may never receive the ticket. Make sure to use well-known companies you have heard of, as well as looking out for logos of authenticity.

  1. AI Phishing attempts and unsolicited social media deals

Links to fake AI generated websites, or scam links in general, may also be sent to consumers via email or social media, and may offer discounted prices to attract consumers. If you receive any emails of this kind, be sure to think twice before clicking the link, as phishing attempts such as this could also result in financial fraud and theft. Some links may even be disguised as appearing to come from a renowned company name.

  1. AI Generated Imagery / Deep Fakes

AI can be used to generate fake images, known as deep fakes, which may be used as part of a false advertisement for an activity or day trip. Not only could this leave you paying for a falsely advertised event, but the event may not even exist.

If you are suspicious and want to examine an image for signs of AI, zoom in to closely analyse it. Signs such as stray pixels, misplaced shapes, or odd outlines can be big indicators of AI images, and will be easier to see this way.

Christoph C. Cemper, founder of AIPRM provides expert comment on identifying AI scams when booking holidays online, as well as what to do if you think you have fallen victim to an AI scam: 

“I believe a (false sense) of urgency, no matter how well explained (using Generative AI) is the top red flag for any kind of scams, including those for booking trips/holidays. Nowadays, anything can be faked with AI so if it is; ‘too’ well written, ‘too’ good to be true in the offer, or ‘too nice’ in pictures, then I would be especially careful.

“The most common form of AI scam is a phishing ‘offer’, that lures the user into providing their personal or payment details too soon/too early based on vague and ‘too good to be true’ promises. Such impulse actions are used to harvest the data as quickly as possible, without much to do once the data is revealed. I know of cases where the legal/police system was busy for months due to an identity theft case that the victim hardly even recalls happening.

“If you think you have fallen victim to a scam, as painful as it is, any kind of revealed information needs to be rendered useless. You can hardly move to another place, so fake ecommerce orders can still happen, but locking down your credit card is the first and most simple thing to do. Leading to a lot of payment failures down the line for legit services where you used that card. That means contacting your bank asap. 

“Contacting the police or special ‘cyber-crime’ departments is always recommended, but there don’t seem to be many cases where that resulted in actual relief beyond education for the victim.”