77ºF

Airline warns about travel scam

photo

If you receive a letter that looks like it is from an airline claiming you've been awarded tickets, take caution. They are likely part of an intricate gimmick by travel agencies.

Who wouldn't like to get a letter in the mail telling you that you have won two free airline tickets. But Pamela Durkee, a U.S. Postal Inspector, warns, "We caution consumers to really read the fine print."

The letter says the recipient must attend a seminar. Postal inspectors refer to solicitations like this as the classic bait and switch. Durkee said,"They bait you with two free tickets. You are like... I'm going to get two free tickets, of course I'm going to go to this meeting."

Once you get there, however, Durkee says they have you right where they want you. "Here comes the high pressure sales pitch and the presentation that you're going to miss an opportunity if you don't sign up for this travel club. There is a lot of pressure to sign up and its well over $10,000."

Inspectors say these solicitations are usually full of red flags. "Con artists will use the names of legitimate, credible companies and they will use a variation of the name or twist the name," Durkee said. In this case, it's the use of U.S. Airlines versus U.S. Airways.

Durkee said this is how they trick you. "An unsuspecting consumer would get this solicitation for free travel tickets, two airline tickets, it might not register at first that US Airlines is not a carrier."

Hundreds of victims complained to inspectors and said the letter was completely misleading. "They were saying they had to go to a sales seminar, high pressure to purchase the travel club and victims say they didn't get their tickets. In this day and age and our economy you don't get too much for free."

U.S. Airways calls the letters "fraudulent" in a warning on its website. along with ways you can spot a scam like this. If you get a letter like this, you can file a complaint by clicking here.