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This week saw a massive Twitter hack. Accounts owned by Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Kanye West were all hit. “Everyone is asking me to give back,” a tweet from Mr Gates’ account said. “You send $1,000, I send you back $2,000.” The tweet asked for people to send Bitcoin not cash.
It may have not generated the same headlines, but this week the Air Charter Association and the European Business Aviation Association published a joint statement warning of a rise in fraudulent charter. They urge victims to report the matter to the authorities immediately.
A fraudulent charter broker has appeared (and been shutdown) under a variety of names. The website(s) paid large sums of cash to appear top of the Google Ad search engine, copies its designs from reputable charter brokers and provides quotations – mimicking the style of perfectly legal operators. The one big difference is the scammers offer an option for payment via Bitcoin for a significant discount. Like the Tweets, this should be a red flag – if ever you’ve seen one.
The associations are trying to persuade Google Ads to remove them from the engine and have had some success. But the scam website reappears under a different name a few days after it is shutdown.
In the meantime, we’d like to help stamp out charter fraud. If you have information to share about the scourge of scam charters, please contact me. We promise to respect your confidence and it could help protect people and deny fraudulent charter a foothold in business aviation. And please do not send Bitcoin.