Is this a scam? “US Airlines” is offering me two roundtrip airline tickets

Is this a scam? “US Airlines” is offering me two roundtrip airline tickets

The offer looked legit to Richard Clarke — well, almost.

There was the company — “US Airlines” — and the familiar logo. The offer appeared to be pretty realistic, too. It informed him he’d won “2 roundtrip tickets” worth $1,298.

It was postmarked in Phoenix, Ariz., which is where an airline with a similar name is based.

But he’s skeptical. “Is this a scam?” he asked me.

If you look closely you’ll spot a few red flags flapping in the wind.

• There is no airline called US Airlines. There is a US Airways based in the Phoenix area.

• The logo is nowhere close to US Airways’ logo, but it looks like an airline logo.

• The sales verbiage is scammy. Here’s the full offer.

NOTE: You must respond no later than April 18th, 2012.

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. 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 1-866-765-5334.

Forcing you to respond quickly can be a bad sign. Also “certain restrictions” is a code word for “many restrictions” and the final paragraph, which applies even more pressure — that’s an even worse sign.

I ought to know. They sent one of these letters to me on Friday.

In fact, the only thing awaiting you when you call appears to be a high-pressure sales presentation for a travel club that offers travel “discounts” after you sign up for an expensive membership.

I have yet to find a travel club that is legitimate.

Here’s a blogger who took “US Airlines” up on its offer. Forward to the 2:00 marker for the call.

This pitch is not new. It rears its head every few years.

Here’s a first-person account of someone who actually attended the sales presentation. And here’s another blogger who traced this offer to a company called Membership Travel Services.

Has anyone ever received a “free” ticket? It’s difficult to say. If they did, it’s a safe bet they sat through a long presentation, endured a high-pressure sales pitch, and ended up paying a steep price for the vouchers.

Update (3/2/13): From a reader —

I’m sure you’re already aware of this, but I just got an updated scam letter in the mail. Apparently they have updated themselves, preparing for US Air to go away after the merger. Their new scam airlines is “United Airways” with a generic airline-like logo next to it.

AND, the envelopes are hand written and the letter inside is hand signed (can feel the pen marks through the paper).

Thanks for the warning. So noted.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Google Plus

  • Right Wired

    This is making its round again.

  • CTYankee

    Two-plus years later and they’re using the SAME SALES PITCH!

    I just played the same game. Made the appointment. Let’s see what happens when I no-show???

  • CTYankee

    AFAIK, they’re just trying to get my wife and I out of the house so they can sent a clean-out robbery crew to my home while we’re sitting in a long and boring high pressure presentation, almost an hour away.

  • Kestrel

    Just got THE EXACT SAME letter today! This one had the “expensive” tickets worth $1450.00 (LOL) and the number they used was 844-824-4462.
    It’s still a scam 2 years later. Hate these people.

  • Kestrel

    Actually, I bought a set of pans at Williams Sonoma and they had added a subscription to their magazine which was having a contest. They contacted me for WEEKS saying I won something. Finally the guy left a message saying that he KNOWS I think it’s a scam but it really wasn’t. He gave me his email, phone numbers s, etc and said I won because of that entry from the magazine. I was determined to sack these jerks so I employed my lawyer and….it turns out I won $2500. I never would’ve known if I hadn’t gotten so mad that I hunted him down.
    Who knew?

  • LOLO

    Just got my letter today. Glad I have sense enough to google. Thanks for the heads up. Never forget: If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

  • insulationman

    I just got a “Travel Voucher Check” for $1,325.00 from these folks. The shredder enjoyed it.

  • stillmanann .

    Thank you for the info! I thought it was real at first as well, but when I went online realized it should be US Airways.

  • Barb

    Now it’s Angela Berry, Customer Relations Manager. Must have riffed all those Vice-Presidents! Times are tough even in the scam business, lol

  • King Lou

    I just got the same letter. US Airlines, etc.. The scam continues. Signed by Michele Jackson. Customer Relations Manager.