There have been a series of scams offering free tickets for airlines worldwide in the last few weeks, all seeming to follow the same pattern and finding victims on Facebook and Whatsapp. With airlines like Qantas, Ryanair, Delta, easyJet and British Airways being used as a cover for the scam, the “offers” are typically being displayed as the chance to grab free tickets for a flight with the airline to celebrate their birthday – which begs the question, what kind of company would give away merchandise worth thousands for their birthday?
The posts have been designed to look as if they have been posted from the company’s official Facebook page, and usually link to a website that includes the airline’s name in the URL but isn’t the official website. The website will ask you to take part in a short survey as they only have a certain number of tickets remaining, which typically involves questions about how often you use the airline along with other marketing questions. They will then ask for your personal details including email address and phone number, which provides the opportunity for them to pass on your details to marketing companies where you will then receive plenty of spam emails and telemarketing phone calls.
It should typically be expected that if a deal seems too good to be true then it probably is, but in order to truly be safe from scams such as this, you should make sure to check where the post you have seen has come from. Typically, the pages will be designed to look like the company’s official page, but as Facebook and Twitter both use blue ticks next to names to confirm that the page is the official page of the brand or company, it is easy to check if you’re looking at a reputable source or not. If you’re still not 100% sure about the post, then you can easily check the page it was posted from for the posts it has posted beforehand as well. Usually, the pages will be fairly new and have very few previous posts if any, and the grammar and spelling that you can find on the page and through the posts are usually terrible – which is a great sign that a page is probably fake.
Many of the airlines themselves have been contacted about the offers, which has led them to confirm that the offers are indeed fake and to clarify the importance of checking where your sources are coming from, as not only could you be harassed by cold-callers and spam emails, you could also have your social media and even bank details scammed through one of the malware pages that you would be let to. If you’re interested in an offer from an airline, make sure to follow the airline’s official social media accounts to get your hands on any deals they may be offering – but be aware they probably won’t be offering free tickets anytime soon.