BBB warns of nationwide travel scam

SACRAMENTO – The Better Business Bureau is warning the public of a a travel scam sweeping across the country.

Thousands of consumers across America have received fake airline vouchers in the mail, claiming the recipient has been awarded two free round-trip tickets to anywhere in the United States. The gift certificates look legitimate but lists fake companies with names such as US Airlines or American Airways.

According to the BBB, the envelopes are usually postmarked from Phoenix or Scottsdale, Ariz. This is considered clever on the part of the scammers, because the corporate headquarters for actual airline, US Airways, is located in nearby Tempe, Ariz.

The mailer does not provide a return address, but includes a phone number and a deadline for the recipient to redeem the voucher. Gary Almond, Better Business Bureau Sacramento president, says the language in the letter can be very deceiving.

"There's a big sense of urgency in the letter," said Almond. "You know, contact us immediately, this is a limited time offer, and this is the last time we're going to contact you, so people are already highly motivated."

Once contact is made, scammers will try to collect the consumer's personal information, telling potential victims they need money wired from a savings or checking account to pay for taxes and insurance fees for the voucher. If a caller is unwilling to provide his or her bank account number, the scammer will continue using high-pressure tactics to acquire credit card information. Either way, the crooks are then able to acquire the funds through your account.

The Better Business Bureau says more people will begin receiving these notices in the next few weeks, especially around the Memorial Day holiday weekend, which typically marks the unofficial start to the summer travel season.


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