Southwest Airlines flight giveaway scams spread on Facebook

Once again Facebook users are being duped into liking and sharing pages, in the belief that they might be rewarded with first class flight tickets to a holiday destination.

Scammers have created Facebook pages that promise 400 free tickets to Las Vegas or 775 first class flights “for you and five friends to a dream destination of your choice anywhere in the world.” And if that wasn’t enough to trick you into doing the scammers bidding, they also trick you into thinking that you will be given $5000 in spending money too.

In the current example, the scams purport to be official communications from Southwest Airlines, the world’s largest low-cost airline, which has been the subject of many similar fraudulent campaigns on social networks in the past.

Here is a typical example of the current scam in action. It goes without saying that the offending pages are not run or sponsored by Southwest Airlines.

Southwest Airlines scam on Facebook

Awesome News vacation lovers’ We are giving away 775 first class flights for you and 5 friends to a dream destination of your choice anywhere in the world and $5,000 spending money!

Rules for entry:
1. Share this photo and Comment “Thank You” below.
2. Like Our Page.
3. Click the “Sign Up” button on our page

Please like our page where the winners will be announced on February 09 2016.

In the case of this particular scam, which at the time of writing Facebook’s security team has not deleted from the site, almost 23,000 users have shared the post with their online friends, and 14,500 have liked the page – all in the mistaken belief that it might help win them free airline tickets.

Snopes this week has reported on a variation of the scam, claiming that winners will soon be jetting with their friends to Las Vegas.

The end result of all these shenanigans, of course, is to trick Facebook users into poor decisions – whether it be taking online surveys which earn affiliate cash for the scammers, signing up for expensive premium rate mobile services, or spamming the unwary with unwanted (and sometimes malicious) messages.

And if you liked the page, or shared it with your friends, then you have helped the online criminals in their scheme. Your simple click endorsed their activity and made it more trustworthy in the eyes of your colleagues and loved ones.

Airlines are not in the habit of giving away hundreds of first class tickets, or festooning the general public with free cash, in exchange for a quick click of the mouse. If you are ever in any doubt as to whether a special offer on Facebook is genuine or not, visit the company’s real website to see if they mention the competition there – or whether they are warning of a scam.

Remember – there is no such thing as a free lunch, and even if there was… who likes airline food that much anyway?

Author Graham Cluley, We Live Security

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