Guiding consumers since 2009

Spike in airline scams

By Staff Writer
Every so often we are bombarded with too-good-to-be-true deals via social media. From laptop and cell phone giveaways to travel prize draws and cash rewards. The latest industry, however, to be targeted by these ‘hoaxes’ is the airline industry.

These are affecting both local and international airlines, from kulula.com and Mango to British Airways.

We take a look at the most recent scams.

kulula.com

Just last week Instagram blew up at the hands of a fraudulent kulula.com account, ‘@kululaairways’, that promised the first 25 000 followers a free flight to anywhere on the continent. All the consumer had to do was post a screenshot and tag the account. Complete with branding and a legitimate link to their website this account reached a following of 24 thousand in just under two weeks.

“Our digital team monitor all online platforms and stay on top of news and social media trends on a daily basis. The team picked up on the scam being posted online and alerted our management”, said head of marketing for kulula.com, Shaun Pozyn.

The team has also been liaising with legal to find a way forward in having these hoax accounts offering incentives to be removed immediately.

Pozyn further highlights that this is seen as a serious abuse of intellectual property and a gross misrepresentation of their brand.

The airline reiterates that they only have four community pages namely Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Google Plus, and that all legitimate competitions will be posted on these platforms. Consumers are all advised to check the validity of these competitions and raise any concerns at 0861 KULULA / 0861 585852. 

British Airways

The international airline was recently affected by a fake Facebook account ‘’British Air”, that advertised free first class British Airways (BA) tickets in a “Prize Draw.” To enter the consumer was required to ‘like’ and ‘share’ the status.

British Airways then released a statement saying that this was a falsified account and that customers should contact them on 0844 493 0787, before buying into any scams.

Both the BA and kulula.com brands fall under Comair, a spokesperson for BA said that the protocol and navigation around these hoax accounts would be similar.

Mango Airlines

The latest scam to hit this airline goes to show that these hoaxes are not only surrounding flight giveaways. Last month, Facebook saw the circulation of a falsified Mango cabin-crew recruitment advertisement, complete with branding and a link to a false registration website. The low-cost airline became aware of the scam activity when they started receiving queries from applicants.

Mango had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

How to avoid falling for a hoax

With the global digital world we find ourselves in, it is not always easy to spot a genuine from a fake. Here are a few tips to help you spot the real deal from the fake:

-Brands like these usually have a substantial following and a substantial activity history, make sure to check for both

-Legitimate social media accounts will be linked on the official company website

-Always cross reference any information at the official contact centres of the airlines, information for these can be found on their various websites

Like the age old saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
 

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