Last updated: 10:30 AM ET, Tue April 14 2015

Phony Travel Agency Scamming Saudi Students Living in England

Impacting Travel | Donald Wood | April 14, 2015

Phony Travel Agency Scamming Saudi Students Living in England

One of the scariest parts of traveling or living abroad is the possibility of identity theft, and several Saudi Arabian students in Britain are reporting a fake travel agency has stolen vital information and used it to withdraw money from bank accounts.

According to the Saudi Gazette, Saudi students living in England were contacted by a company claiming to be a British travel agency with offers on cheap flights home. The students are reporting that the people on the phone speak English, but have an Asian accent.

The scariest part is that the caller had a database of all the Saudi students in Britain and vital family information that gave the students reassurance that the offer was not a scam. Using the low income of the students, the phony travel agency would offer cheap airline ticket prices to Saudi Arabia in order to get vital bank information.

Saudi PhD student Saleh Bin Mayouf told the Saudi Gazette about how the calls were a problem before and how they have returned with a vengeance:

“A series of incidents occurred eight months ago and then stopped for a while. However, the phone calls have returned and Saudi volunteers in Britain have been tweeting about the agency to warn others. I think the Saudi Cultural Bureau in England should do something about it.”

The situation has raised many questions, including one from a student named Naif Al-Saeed who wondered how the scammers got all the information in the first place. He claims all the information can be found in the Saudi Cultural Bureau, which indicates the callers either worked with the bureau or hacked its systems.

Another student, A. Al-Otaibi, told the Saudi Gazette about how he felt he could trust the scam artists because of the information they had, but the callers stole SR1,390 ($370.67) from his bank account almost immediately.

For those Saudi students in England—or really anyone who runs into a similar situation—do your due diligence before giving away personal information. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

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