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Free Airline Ticket Travel Scam in SE Wisconsin

A travel scam promising Free tickets is again visiting Wisconsin. Get the details of the scam and know how to protect yourself.

A Scam that has been around as early as 2004 is back in the area so please be careful...

Yes even we received this mailing via USPS that contained a letter from US Airlines about being "qualified for an award of 2 roundtrip airline tickets." This is a scam, which we'll explain by analyzing the content, language, design, and format of the letter and envelope.

Here's the text of the letter: ( yours may differ slightly )

++++++ Beginning of Letter  +++++++

    Dear XXXXXX,

    I am pleased to inform you that you have qualified for an award of 2 round trip airline tickets. Congratulations. These tickets are valid for travel anywhere in the Continental U.S. from any major international airport. The retail value of this award is up to $1,298.00. Certain restrictions apply.

    We have attempted contacting you several times without success. This is our last attempt. If we do not hear from you soon, we may need to issue the ticket vouchers to the alternate.

    Please call me today at 1-XXX-XXXX.

    Regards,
    Zoe Dyer
    Vice President

+++++ End of Letter   +++++++++

Why & how you can tell it is a scam !

There is No American Airways- American Airways is not an existing airline company. Don't be fooled.

Although the name may seem legit and bear some familiarization, it piggybacks off other major airline names, such as U.S. Airways.

The only website for US Airlines I could find was "The Unofficial Site About the Letter from US Airlines," which features generic blog posts promoting the letter and promoting another author's website.

Without a return address on the envelope or address on the letter, there's no way to write back. The only option is to call the phone number for Mary Jay, vice president.

This is an BIG indication that something is amiss. A legit business will have a physical address; it's required when you file with the county or state for a business license.

Also, generally, large businesses have vice presidents of something or other -- like vice president of marketing, vice president of finance, etc. Saying the vice president of the company sent me a personal letter is pretty far-fetched.
Content

The first sentence of the letter indicates that I "qualified for an award of 2 round trip airline tickets," but the last sentence says that "we (US Airlines) may need to issue the ticket vouchers to the alternate." The sentences contradict each other: Am I qualified for the award or am I an award winner?

This is one indication that the writer of this letter didn't proofread for content.

The second indication is that business writing style dictates that numbers under 10 be spelled out, which is not the case for the number two in the quote above. Also, the retail value "of this award is up to $1,298.00." Adding a value for cents -- when there is not any -- is absurd.

Other redundancies include the first sentence's six words: "I am pleased to inform you." If you're writing to me, then I can gather you are going to inform me.

There are even more inconsistencies ...The letter creator needs to get the language straightened out if he/she wants to convince people.


Fine print

Although this letter was sent to us, I know I did not enroll in any contest or sweepstakes. But even if we did, the letter should provide a reminder about what contest or sweepstakes we enrolled in or a listing of why we were chosen.

The letter contains no fine print about the contest or sweepstakes, but it does mention that "certain restrictions apply." Adding those restrictions in the letter or a link to them is needed for full disclosure.

Design

The letter came in an envelope with no return address. My name and address were hand-written on the outside of the envelope, which featured a stamp -- not a meter mark.

Many businesses use automated meter marks for postage, but, most importantly, meter marks are traceable, which is clearly what the letter writer is trying to avoid.

Also, the hand-writing on the envelope indicates a laziness to create a professional-looking piece or perhaps a non-computer savvy person.


If you do call, you'll hear about how this company has been recently hired by a travel agency that just opened in your area. They want to get their name known, so they allegedly give away free tickets.

They'll want you to go to a presentation, bringing your driver's license and credit card.

They'll do a sales pitch and try to get you to sign up for a travel club that costs thousands. In return, they promise great deals on plane tickets, lodging, etc. -- all of which has additional fees and restrictions that may make it near impossible (and expensive) to claim.
Vacation, airlines scams

These vacation type scams have been going on since at least 2004, when the Washington Post noted a similar scam happening in Virginia.

The Better Business Bureau has investigated consumer complaints from travel businesses all over the U.S., including Tennessee, Arizona, and Wisconsin. They also wrote about this award notification letter.

The names of these so-called travel membership businesses change -- as does the name of the airlines -- the gist of the scam is the same: They want to take your hard-earned money.

If you have receive a Letter from American Airways or US Airlines promising Free airline tickets and are worried about the validity, Latitudes Travel will be happy to help you. (414) 433-4873 or email us at Info@latitudesWI.com

Latitudes Travel  is an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau.  You can find there profile through the Wisconsin BBB http://wisconsin.bbb.org/
28814 Stone Ridge Ct. Waterford, WI 53185  (414) 433-4873
www.LatitudesWI.com 

For more information you can also visit: http://redtape.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/06/26/12403818-the-great-airline-ticket-giveaway-that-just-wont-go-away?lite

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

C. Sanders February 13, 2013 at 07:26 PM
I got this letter twice and re-gifted it to RUSD.
Steve ® February 13, 2013 at 08:09 PM
I get scam emails every day, interested in XXX part number what carrier do you use and what credit cards do you accept. They are always sent from a GMail account and when I google their shipping address it's always some crappy house. I'm trying hard on this one guy now for him to send me a deposit via money order then we will do a CC order. It is my goal to scam one of these scammers someday.
Burton Robertson February 13, 2013 at 09:08 PM
Craig, yes it is possible to book your own travel, but did you know that a survey of the 10 largest companies that take consumer complaints that 34% of all complaints are related to the 8 largest on-line travel web-sites?? Be careful out there even if you do it yourself. Steve, Not sure that is a good idea.. but FYI this isn't a e-mail scam it comes in the regular mail...
Burton Robertson February 13, 2013 at 09:23 PM
Yes Craig... I don't list our address on blogs and chat boards to avaoid getting bombarded with junk mail... If you check our BB site, website you will find our address... we are located closet to Waterford. It should be noted this was not meant to be an Advertisement for our company, that is against the Patches terms so I would be happy to continue this discussion about us off the board. Thank You
Bren February 13, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Yes, I book with the airlines as well, especially for business.
Burton Robertson February 13, 2013 at 09:41 PM
Yes always book directly with an airline.... Use a online site to find the best option then book directly with the airline you've chosen. Most travel agencies charge a fee for doing this for you because since deregulation of the airlines they no longer pay commission on airline tickets. That being said some agencies Latitudes included does this fee free for our good customers as a perk... That is why Latitudes is know as the Concierge Travel Agency
jbw February 14, 2013 at 07:45 AM
I like the email scams where they'd ask for your name and phone number to contact you. I had some foreign guys calling Pizza Hut asking to speak to people with various gag names for days, while I assured them in reply to their follow-up emails that I can be reached at that number and they just need to be more insistent. Then there was the time I used a temporary CC number with a $1 limit to sign up for the "learn the secrets of money making with Google for $1" scam. The FTC sent me a check for $20 a few months later because I was still on the customer list when they were shut down.
Irving February 14, 2013 at 10:06 PM
I got the letter, too. One quick internet search showed me that it was a scam, that was all she wrote.
justwant2comment February 15, 2013 at 12:35 AM
I have recieved letters like this several times over the past few years and I immediately put it where it belongs - in the paper recyling bag!
The Donny Show February 15, 2013 at 02:10 PM
As long as there are fools, there will be scams. Simple as that.

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