Techie held for hacking Air India frequent flyers accounts

New Delhi, July 17 (IANS) A 23-year-old techie has been arrested for hacking Air India’s Frequent Flyer member accounts and using them to book tickets sold to several travel agents, Delhi Police said on Sunday.

The accused, Anitesh Giri Goswami, a BCA graduate from Pune, was arrested from Jaipur on Friday.

According to police, a complaint was received in the Cyber Crime Cell of the Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) alleging some persons were selling Air India tickets by redeeming of miles of genuine Flying Returns Members after hacking the Frequent Flyer members account.

In a statement, the EOW said it was found that the hub of the scam was in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur and Goswami was its mastermind. On basis of electronic surveillance and information of a local informer, a raid was conducted at an apartment in Jaipur and Giri was nabbed.

A laptop, several mobile phones and other relevant documents were also recovered from his possession.

Police further claimed that Giri was an IT expert, who had earlier worked with Kingfisher Airlines and Air India and was well versed with the online ticket-booking system and functioning of Air India’s intranet and internet-based systems.

Explaining the modus operandi, police said that Giri first understood functioning of the ticketing system as well as the points/miles system of the airlines and then hacked into the Loyalty Plus programme website of Air India.

After gaining access, he administrator user rights, which he used to upgrade several other user IDs with the same rights, police said.

Using these IDs, he verified hundreds of dormant accounts of Frequent Flyer members by uploading fraudulently prepared KYC (know your customer) documents, and used these membership accounts and the miles or points accumulated in these accounts for booking airline tickets. These were sold to various travel or ticketing agents based in Pune, Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai.

He gained access to the internal functioning of Air India website while working at the Jodhpur airport, and left his Air India job to start exploiting loopholes in the Frequent Flyer Programme’s functioning.

–IANS

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