You know the saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Cybercriminals seem to have taken that truism to heart, because they continue to reuse the same old scams — and they never fail to find victims. Last summer, social media worldwide were flooded with reposts of fake airline giveaways. We covered it at the time, but as the new holiday season approaches, the same posts are popping up again, with very minor changes.
Airline tickets cost a pretty penny, so getting two free sounds great to most people. And airlines themselves sometimes hold ticket lotteries, which adds a veneer of authenticity to the fake variety. Cybercriminals exploit the situation with sham giveaways, and this year they added WhatsApp to their repertoire, and expanded the range of “prizes.” Now you can enter to win not only airplane tickets, but also sneakers, gift cards, and more. Well, if the prizes aren’t real, the scammers can offer whatever they want.
Russian airline Aeroflot recently warned users about fake WhatsApp messages offering the chance to pocket some free tickets. And identical messages started appearing on behalf of British Airways and other airlines.
When clicking on the link to receive the promised tickets, the user is invited to answer three simple questions about the airline: have they traveled with it before, were they satisfied with the level of service, and would they recommend it to friends and family.
Having completed the brief survey, they are asked to share a link with three friends from their WhatsApp contacts. Fake comments on the page do their best to make it all look real. After the message is sent to three contacts, the duped user is redirected to a partner site where they might encounter another short poll with a “valuable prize” attached, or a phishing attempt, or even malware.
Such messages are distributed on behalf of many airlines (without their knowledge, obviously), and IM and social media users around the world continue to send and repost them on both WhatsApp and Facebook.
You can’t win, but at least you don’t have to lose
By now you should be clued in to the fact that such messages are fake. But so as not to fall for other similar tricks, be sure to follow these simple rules:
- Apply a healthy dollop of skepticism when confronted with generous online offers.
- If an offer seems legit, contact the company to clarify the terms of the promotion. Only if the company directly confirms everything should you click any links or start entering personal data.
- Don’t share unconfirmed information with friends and acquaintances.
- Use a reliable security solution with antiphishing protection. It will block any attempt to switch to a fake site, depriving cybercriminals of your valuable data.