Exclusive:Edinburgh Airport missing luggage scam: £2,750 demanded from passenger for return of mislaid bag

Austrian student fell victim after being told to leave personal details at unstaffed Menzies Aviation desk

Scammers have demanded thousands of pounds from an Austrian student for the return of her lost bag after she was told to leave her mislaid luggage claim form at an unstaffed desk at Edinburgh Airport.

The visiting language student was told to pay $3,600 (£2,750) and send photos of her bank card when she received a phone call three days after leaving the form at the Menzies Aviation handling agents’ counter. The bag did not turn up when her Lufthansa flight from Salzburg via Frankfurt arrived in Edinburgh. Details of the incident have been sent to Police Scotland.

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Her teacher, Professor Martina Ruch, said staff at the language school, which the girl was attending, had been able to prevent the scam, but feared other passengers might become victims.

Prof Ruch told The Scotsman: "It could have been somebody who photographed the forms on the counter. In our case, nothing bad happened because enough people cared, but others might not be so lucky.

"It is obvious that the whole system is corrupted. The airlines offer many more flights than their service providers at the airports can handle, and the airports do not seem to have enough personnel to deal with the workload, all of which is being ignored. I was really angry about how those big corporations treat people just for the sake of profit."

Prof Ruch, of the HBLFA Raumberg-Gumpenstein agriculture research institute, said the incident happened after she returned to the airport with the student to complete the form, two days after they arrived in Edinburgh on June 29. They had been unable to find any Menzies Aviation staff when the bag did not arrive and then had difficulties reporting it online.

Finding the Menzies Aviation desk again unstaffed, she said: “I asked for help at the Lufthansa check-in and one of the employees went to the Menzies counter and provided us with forms to fill in and leave there.

"My student and several other passengers having the same problem did as advised. Although I did not feel comfortable with leaving my student’s personal information there unsupervised, we did so.

"Consequently, my student was contacted by phone on July 4 by a call centre and asked to make a deposit of $3,600, which the teacher at the language school prevented. My student was persuaded to send photographs of both sides of her bank card in order to give proof of identity, which she foolishly, and without anyone’s initial knowledge, did.

"This resulted in having to cancel her debit card. [She was told] she would get her suitcase if she appeared personally at the ‘Lufthansa counter’ at Edinburgh Airport."

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Menzies Aviation senior vice-president UK & Ireland Phil Lloyd said: “We are conducting a full investigation into this matter so we can ascertain the facts. Once this is complete, we will take the appropriate action. Until then it would be inappropriate to comment. Our team at Edinburgh Airport is working very hard to assist passengers with delayed baggage.”

A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: “Our expectation of handling agents, which are contracted by airlines, is that they should ensure desks passengers use to directly log luggage issues are staffed.”