As advertisers flood to Facebook to make their offers on a targeted platform, it makes sense for scammers to head there and try to fool unsuspecting or gullible Facebook users. These users, fooled into the bogus offers likewise share them, attracting attention and clicks from friends who trust them more than advertisers.
Offers vary from first class round the world flights, access to premium airport lounge and other variations that sound too good to be true. While fares have stabilized and legitimate offers are plenty, passenger experience hasn’t gone better: economy classes getting more crowded, loyalty programs implementing tighter rules, and hidden costs and other add-ons have proliferated. So it’s easy to conclude these offers are now less believable than before.
To those who are not familiar with the scam, it works like this.
Scammers replicate a genuine airline’s Facebook page, using official logos, close to identical Page names — with almost negligible add-on such as punctuation marks at the end — or using Airline instead of Airlines. Underneath these pages, a fake lottery offer featuring high-value travel package is published and the Page then asks you to like, comment or share the post for the purpose of getting more exposure within your social circle. Once your friends see the offer, they are also tempted to do the same, thus creating sort of viral effect generated by folks aiming to be drawn in that lottery draw.
You quickly ask, what’s wrong with liking some random post? Facebook is about connections and liking what you like is the hallmaark of the social media giant. Besides, it’s free and if the offer turns out to be real, there’s nothing to lose.
Unfortunately, the offer’s probably fake and you won’t be missing out on a chance to winning that travel of the lifetime.
Upon engaging with these fake posts and since you’ve been marked as gullible, scammers can further flood you with more spam promotions. They can also allow access to page to dodgy marketers who buy their way to get your information.
The concept of ‘like farming’ isn’t only used on airline offers, it’s also used to attract attention on posts like cute cats and puppies, acknowledging reward good acts of humanity and ‘one like, one prayer’ scheme to help the “recovery of cancer patients”.
Once you fall into the trap of joining this non-existent promotions, you’ll possibly get calls from salesmen peddling insurance, banks or security services.
So now back to the question: how to detect these bogus Facebook airline offers?
1. Examine the page for tell-tale identity signs. Does it have the Blue Verification Tick next to the Page name accorded to verified pages? Is the spelling of the page in line with the official name of the airline? Does it use “Delta Airline” or “Delta Airlines.” instead of the official “Delta Airlines” name?
An official/verified page has that “blue verification tick” next to the Page name.
2. How many likes does the Page attract? For global brands, these likes easily surpass hundreds of thousands or even millions. But if you only see 15,000 or 45,000, the airline’s social media team might need replacement.
3. Check the offer carefully. Does it have terms and conditions before joining the promotion? Real airlines provide clear rules who can join, promotion period, etc. What prizes are on offer? Remember it’s rare airlines offer seats, let alone first class seats as raffle prizes. So if they offer hundreds of first class tickets, that’s clinches the fake airline offer confirmation. Try following genuine airline Facebook Pages and it’s not likely you have remembered receiving any of such first-class or round-the-world trips.
Of course, this is not saying such offers can’t and won’t happen in the future as airlines trying to keep up with growing competition might employ such attractive prizes.
But it doesn’t take a scientist or detective to uncover a scam that’s just wasting everyone’s time and expose us to further bogus offers in the future. Be smart and avoid getting labeled by your Facebook friends.
Believe it or not, it is not difficult to detect airline scammers plying their trade on Facebook. From names of these pages to the quality of images used or proper use of the language, and the type of offers they lure us into. But since many other Facebook users fall for them — whether seriously or just for fun we don’t know — fraudsters continue to thrive. Letting family members and connections know about a scam is a vital step in ensuring that they do not become willing victims.
The scam might look simple but it could be your identity that’s being stolen in return.