Travel Check Voucher Scheme - Updated 7/23/13
I’m still receiving emails from readers that are also receiving these letters and travel check vouchers. It seems that the letters are dropping off in favor of the vouchers (see below for example images). These are slightly more realistic looking, but no more legitimate.
A reader indicated they would be contacting the Florida Attorney General’s office to file a complaint. The Attorney General’s office responded with the following:
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi received your email regarding an unsolicited letter you received purporting to be from United Airways / Travel Union. Attorney General Bondi asked that I respond. We appreciate hearing from you, and I have reviewed your concerns. Unfortunately, “spoof” solicitations have become common on the Internet, over the telephone, and in our mailboxes. It is usually possible to check the validity of suspicious offers by either contacting the legitimate company whose name has been spoofed, or by using an online search engine to look up the keywords of the offer. In this instance, American Airlines and the Better Business Bureau have issued alerts about the fraudulent letters that are circulating.
To reduce the number of direct marketing solicitations you receive in the mail, you may remove your name and address from national mailing lists by contacting the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service, Post Office Box 282, Carmel, New York 10512. For more information, visit the Association’s website at: https://www.dmachoice.org/dma/static/basics.jsp
The Attorney General’s Office has also partnered with the Seniors Vs. Crime Project, and the objective of this program is to educate senior citizens on different types of fraud, scams and high pressure tactics.
Thank you for your vigilance and for sharing your concerns with Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office.
Office of Citizen Services
Florida Attorney General’s Office
PL-01, The Capitol
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1050
Telephone: (850) 414-3990
Toll-free within Florida: (866) 966-7226
I also made an attempt to reach out to the Clark Howard Show to see if they’d do a story on their radio show, but I haven’t heard back from them. I think this story deserves exposure to make sure that people aren’t falling for this trick.
As always, I welcome comments if you’ve received a similar letter as well.
United Airways / American Airlines Scam Travel Check Voucher - Updated 3/18/13
Reader Jean was kind enough to send in a recent travel check “voucher” she received. It looks like “American” Airways, United Airways or whatever they’re called this week has upgraded their letter to a voucher/check. Check out the pics below (you can click to view larger versions). I also noticed in one of the video “testimonies” below, they mention a website – http://www.americanairwaysletter.com. The site is now down, so it appears someone must be catching on to this scam.
Have you also gotten the latest version that looks like a travel check voucher?
Just when I thought this scam couldn’t get any crazier – I received ANOTHER letter with a different phone number (I’ve added it to the table below), this time signed by Jan Cane. Here, I scanned this version. Check it out:
And here’s the envelope:
Another Update on the American Airways Voucher – 1/30/13
I have a few more details to report. Based on the number of comments and hits I’m seeing, this scam is clearly still alive and well. I reached out to local news outlets and found a story that aired on Local 6 Orlando back in August of 2012. Check out the story here.
To receive the free tickets, consumers, like Biringer, are asked to attend a travel agency presentation. Telemarketers for US Airlines explained the presentation was to introduce a new travel agency in town and share information about travel products. Consumers who went to the presentation, however, told Local 6 it was actually a sales pitch for a so-called travel club.
“Basically, you join a club. It costs you $12,900,” said William Grobasky, a consumer who attended the pitch.
As you can see, the letters received back in August were very similar. The differences? The company name, phone number and company “executives” that signed the letters. I’ve yet to call but I’m seriously considering it.
Latest List of Phone Numbers
Below is the latest list of phone numbers being used in this scam:
I’m curious, has anyone called United Airways or American Airway to see what they say about these alleged free tickets?
Update on the American Airways Voucher - 1/20/13
It seems that I’m not the only one that’s received this or a similar scam letter (just check out the comments below). Others are reporting that they’re getting the letter under different company names such as American Airways and with different phone numbers. If you’ve received this letter, let us know what the phone number is, who the manager is and what the company name on the letterhead is. If you’d like to scan the letter and have me post it up here I can mask your information as I’ve done with mine in the letter below.
We do NOT want anyone to fall victim to this scam! Help me help others avoid getting ripped off and share your letter with us!
Update on the American Airways Voucher - 12/31/12
‘Tis the season for many things. Holiday cheer, holiday travel, gift-giving and receiving and (more than likely) lots of eating. Oh, and I’ll be watching some football in there as well (go Big 10!). But the season is also time for less desirable things as well – like scams. Most scammers are sloppy and unorganized and I usually just laugh at their efforts. They must work at least some of the time or why would they keep popping up, right? There’s an old saying that “a fool and his money are soon parted.”
I received a confirmed scam letter today that made me scratch my head just a bit, though. Check out the letter I received below.
United Airways Scam – A Letter For Two Free Tickets?
It looks pretty authentic, doesn’t it? They even have a toll-free number: 1-866-962-1931. You know what? I have half a mind to call them and give them an ear full! I could tell this was a fake but apparently not everyone could. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), it’s confirmed not authentic, and quite a few people have reported it. It’s actually a scam sent by people looking to swindle honest, hard-working people out of their money. Here’s what the BBB posted about this scam back in JULY:
Consumers nationwide are receiving letters stating that they have won two round-trip tickets courtesy of American Airlines or US Airlines. Don’t be fooled! US Airlines is not a real company, this letter is not from the real American Airlines, and sadly you have not actually won any tickets. These letters are, in fact, scams.
About the scam:
Consumers are receiving either a fax or a hand addressed letter in the mail. The letters have no return address and use a signature stamp as opposed to a meter mark. Most of the letters appear to be coming from Phoenix, Arizona and contain a logo of either US Airlines or American Airlines. The message typically reads as follows:
NOTE: You must respond no later than XXXX.
I am pleased to inform you that you have qualified for an award of 2 roundtrip 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 1-866-546-1767.
Although these letters may look legitimate, they are not. The phony name “US Airlines” is supposed to resemble the real “United Airlines.” With many consumers reporting these letters, scammers have since switched to using the name “American Airlines.” The letters are NOT, however, from the real American Airlines. This is a phishing scam attempting to acquire your personal information.
The sad part? Someone will fall for it – and many likely already have. When I think of someone like my grandmother or grandfather receiving something like this it makes me mad. The thought of someone taking advantage of the elderly or someone more trusting is just wrong. The best part? It’s the holiday season!
What’s Wrong With This Letter?
To some of us, this is clearly a fake. But what lead me to believe that it wasn’t real? Here are a few things that stood out:
- The less-than-impressive letterhead. The letterhead looks like a cheap knock-off. “United Airways”, if a real company, needs to spend more money on the letterhead they send to customers.
- The fake company name. As the BBB article mentions above, the scammers are trying to impersonate a legitimate airline. However, there’s no such airline as “United Airways”. The REAL airlines that look similar to the fake company represented are actually United Airlines and US Airways. I guess they thought they were being clever combining the names.
- The hand-written envelope (see below). While I would appreciate a personal touch if a company sent me a hand-written letter, most large companies don’t. The fact the letter is actually hand-signed and hand-addressed was a big clue this letter was a fake.
- No such thing as “free”. Since when does any company stay in business by giving away $1298.00? Um, pretty much never. At least not for a good reason. If you get a letter that says you get something for free I’d always be very skeptical.
Free Ticket “Testimonial” Videos (Also a Scam)
Since publishing my post just a few days ago, I’ve also uncovered a number of “testimonial” videos for the free ticket voucher. Don’t believe everything you see on the Internet, folks. These are just part of their scam. Sorry to all you iPhone and iPad users but these videos are all Flash.
Have you gotten any letters like this in the mail or have you seen any other scamming techniques recently? Tell us about the scams you’ve seen in the comments below.