RUSSIAN hackers are stealing Brits’ air miles to fund a black market in luxury holidays, a report has found.
A report by Flashpoint found that flights, hotels and car-hire are sold at discounts of up to 75% by criminals on the dark web.
But the deals have been bought using reward points and air miles stolen from airline user accounts and bank accounts in phishing scams.
The hackers use online stores resembling legitimate travel agents to advertise the breaks, where grateful customers post photos and leave reviews.
Research company Flashpoint said the problem was so serious that one US-based bank with British customers had quietly blocked the purchase of flights in Russia using its rewards scheme.
One British couple found their Avios points had been used to pay for a room in Spain under the names of Olga and Dmitry, according to The Times.
Liv Rowley, of Flashpoint, said: “One advantage for criminals of using reward points is that the legitimate owner might not notice for months that their points have gone.
“They’re confident enough to travel in their own names using the stolen points.”
The company would not name the point schemes and airlines affected but said that ‘major’ British names were involved.
The International Air Transport Association estimates that the airline industry loses more than $1 billion a year as a result of the fraudulent online purchases of flight tickets.
Alan Woodward from the University of Surrey said: “The whole area of crime as a service is common on the dark markets . . . The part that is unclear is why there isn’t more cross-checking: you would have thought that loyalty points would be usable only by those to whom the points belong.”