Cyberthugs hack websites of top hotels in Kerala, dupe tourists booking rooms online

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Many tourists have fallen victim to online fraud where the fraudsters hack into Google business accounts of major hotels in Kerala. Image: Onmanorama/Canva

Kochi: Many tourists have fallen victim to online fraud where the fraudsters hack into Google business accounts of major hotels in Kerala and created bogus websites before accepting “bookings” online.

Following complaints, the Cyber Police have launched a detailed investigation with a Rajasthan-based fraud gang under the scope of the inquiry. The cops also removed the fake websites after reporting the same to Google.

Such frauds have been reported by many five-star hotels and resorts recently, especially after the start of the summer vacation, when tourists in large numbers resort to online booking of hotel rooms.

The website of the heritage Bolgatty Palace & Island Resort Hotel of the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation too was hacked.

The fraud was revealed when several people have come to the hotels, claiming they have a booking with them. Though the tourists lost over Rs 5,000 per room, the hotel authorities gave the maximum concession to the victims, which was a relief to them.

Modus operandi

The cyberthugs commit the scam after obtaining OTP by making calls in the disguise of Google officials. Upon clicking the Google link, a customer is led to the bogus website, where it will be displayed that their room booking is done. The fraudsters then collect the bank details and dupe the “booking amount” from the victims.

Such frauds happened in Kollam and Kumarakom. Phone numbers too will be provided on such fake websites. If a customer makes a call, the person at the other end will confirm the “booking”. That number will become out-of-service after some time, sources said.

The Cyber police have collected details from the victims of such UPI money payment deals. A team is set to travel to Rajasthan to nab the fraudsters.

Book only through official websites

One can prevent falling victim to such fraud by booking only through the official websites of hotels. If you click on the Google link and are directed to the bogus website, then it will be shown that ‘this user is not verified’. Many of the victims had cancelled the message and proceeded to book from the same website.

In the above instance, while the real website of the KTDC hotel is, the fraudsters created fake ones with addresses and the like. Many websites of hotels too were rendered useless after they were hacked.

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