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December 8, 2011

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Phony airline websites stealing people's money

FAKE websites copying those of major Chinese airlines are defrauding people, airline officials warned yesterday.

The "customer service representatives" of the websites that cloned those of China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines asked customers who called in to remit money into a bank account and then disappeared.

The cloned websites showed up on Google searches for the airlines' names. They look similar to the official sites, but have different phone numbers.

Wang Haodong, a local white-collar worker, was cheated out of 980 yuan (US$154) on Tuesday when he tried to buy a plane ticket from Shanghai to Dandong, in northeast China's Liaoning Province, on a website pretending to be China Southern Airlines.

"After I remitted the money to their bank accounts, the customer service claimed they had yet to receive the money and ignored my later calls," Wang, who works for a software company, told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

The fake website and hotline were still available yesterday. A "staffer" told a Shanghai Daily reporter that the company's system was being upgraded, so credit cards could not be used and the only way to buy tickets was to remit money to a bank account.

People went online yesterday to complain that they were cheated by similar cloned websites of China Eastern Airlines that looked exactly like the airline's official site.

One way for customers to know if they're on the real site: The airlines will never ask customers to remit money to any bank account, customer service representatives of both airlines said yesterday.


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