Travel Scams Reported Around the Country
By Erica Duecy and Rachel Klein
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That's the message Fodors.com members and other would-be travelers around the nation are telling one another after receiving fake free or discounted airline ticket offers that range from deceptive marketing ploys to outright scams.
Dozens of Fodors.com members have posted their accounts of receiving mail claiming they've won free airline tickets or a $1,400 travel voucher from a company called U.S. Airlines, apparently posing as US Airways.
"Received a very official-looking document (tear off sides) marked "travel check" for $1400 from U.S. Airlines," wrote Fodors.com member claymama. "The 'check' has a return address of 'Travel Union, Phoenix, AZ 85006'...Marked 'This is not a timeshare or land sales offer.'"
However, Fodors.com members who contacted the company said they were asked to attend a 90-minute presentation for "travel membership" packages or vacation clubs, with sign-up fees upwards of $7,000, before they would be eligible to receive the tickets. Fodors.com editors tried repeatedly to contact representatives at the company in question, but calls were not returned.
The actual airline, US Airways, said they were aware of the problem and have responded to concerned individuals on a case-by-case basis.
"It seems like every couple of years a new company tries to do this," said US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder. "When we get calls, we try to tell people it's not us."
Other recent travel scams include one on Craigslist where Continental Airlines tickets were being sold at a discounted rate by scammers using stolen credit cards. As reported by Sacramento's Fox News affiliate, one family who purchased the Craigslist tickets called Continental to confirm that the tickets were good. At the time, they were. But days later, after the fraud was discovered, Continental informed the family that the tickets were no longer valid.
In yet another reported bait-and-switch tactic, Facebook users have been asked to share links with their friends to get free Southwest Airlines tickets. People who share the links are then directed to a website to purchase goods instead of getting free tickets.
Have you received free travel offers like these? If so, tell us your story on Fodors.com.
Photo credits: EllaKari / iStockPhoto; courtesy of Jessica Kirby
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Member Comments (3) Post a Comment
I received this as well on 08/17/2012. I asked many questions to Megan, 866-213-2799 extension 23 who explained that in order for me to get my two free airline tickets, I needed someone who was between the ages of 27-60 that had an annual credit of 45,000 per year plus aa credit card to attend. They would have to call and provide my coupon code of KE-28759 and listen to a 90 minute presentation from a travel agent on Binford Blv. in Indianapolis Indiana. Once that individual provided my code and attended the session, they would need to call Megan at 866-213-2799 ext 27 and then she would mail me a voucher for two free airline tickets to my home. I asked her how I won and she shared that any time I travel or use rental cars, the companies (i.e. airlines, rental, hotels, etc. provide my name and information to a data base with my annual income, credit information and a copy of my photo id with my age requirements). Now to me, that is enough info for any one to target you for idenity theft and if airlines, rental car companies, hotels etc, do share this information, I am furious, however, the rational side of me believes that this is some sort of cold call company that just wildly stabs around until you respond yes.
Anyway, what I was explained is this, they had information that I was married so in order for me to redeem the "prize" on my own, myself and spouse would have to attend a 90 min. presentation. If I did not want to attend this then then a friend that meets those requirements needs to attend. so my question is this. I did inquire into what airlines would I fly, black out dates, etc. I was advised my voucher would come in the mail with the airline ticket information and there are people all across every state that can fill in the airfair information.
Not sure what airline that is or what that means since Megan initially told me that how this works is that Travel agents purchase tickets with major airlines that have no stand by, it is an actual seat you are guarenteed, and with a major airline anywhere in the continental U.S.
My "voucher" that said I had been awarded a prize looks like an official check with a watermark and all. The artical has my name on it and is written as such "US Airlines on behalf of (my first and last name)dated 8/07/2012 and has on the back, an endorse here section, a do not write, stamp, or sign below this line section
reserved for financial institution use
and then a heat sensitive pink flag that disappears when exposed to heat, by rubbing or touching with thumb that really does disappear.
Under that it has a box with a lock item that states
"the security features listed below, as well as those not listed, exceed industry guidelines. refers to document as a check. padlock design-trademark check payment systems association. Again, this document (with no return address prsrtd postage paid phoenix, az permit no.1484 is the postal code, no return address, instead where one would typically be, there is a travel check voucher enclosed statement.
I am not certain if this is a scam but it has the tell tail makings of one.
1- no return address.
2- A similiar name of a recognizable company, (in fact, I mistakenly read this as US Airways instead of US Airlines)
3- a ligitimate looking check with security features.
4- Limited information within the mailing on details of how to obtain the document (call this number to claim your prize)
5- no clear reason as to why "you" were selected.
6- SOUNDS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE
7- Limited information from the customer service representative when you do call.
8- No return address on the check looking document
9- a Memo on the check that states you have to do something else to use the check.
10- a signiture but no official name from anyone in the company.
11- Urgency, if you do not act now after the countless attempts you never got, you will lose your prize.
I mean, if it smells like a pig, oinks like a pig, and looks like a pig, even with lipstick, it is still a pig. Sounds like a scam but I welcome anyone to go to the travel agent and listen to a 90 min. presentation to see if we both get two free tickets in a struggling recession to anywhere we cannot afford in the U.S.
Best wishes. My next call is to a fraud alert center.
An incident occurred to me in October that I beleive all travellers in Italy should be made aware.
I was returning from Cremona to Genoa and stopped at a motorway services for usual requirements. Whilst I was in the washroom I was spoken to
by a guy asking my nationality. After purchasing drink and sandwich I was stood by the car and this same guy was wandering round the carpark
talking on a mobile and passed the other side of my vehicle. After a few minutes I drove off and about 5m later my nearside rear tyre went flat and I pulled
into a layby. No sooner had I stopped when a potential Guiseppe in shining armour also stopped in front of me. I got out of car (ignition key) in hand and went to look at said tyre. A guy got out of the other vehicle and said "triangle" "policia" and went to the boot. I realised that said triangle had to be
placed up the road. I turned round and started walking up the road when my mugometer alarm started sounding off and as I looked round there was
someone else leaning into the car. I ran back to the door kind of asking him what he was doing and lo and behold it was the matey who had been in
the carpark. After making a quick check to make sure I wasnt missing anything I politely requested they offski which fortunately they did even
bidding me chow. Wether they intended taking the vehicle with said flat a mile up the road and taking all or just grabbing a few things I dont know
but either way it would have been a great inconvenience.
They are now attempting to pose as American Airlines. In the left hand corners of both top page and "voucher" they have "American." However, "PAY TO THE ORDER OF" is made out to "American TAD on behalf of" potential scamee's name. Again it says, "This is not a timeshare or land sales offer." Toll free number is 1-866-617-5909.
Of course I don't intend to call, but I wanted a posting that could be internet searched by someone who might be considering it....
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