Yesterday I received a peculiar letter; the envelope was covered in dense black print, and there were perforations along each side, like a payslip envelope. Several warnings were plastered all over the package explaining that this was urgent and must not be tampered with on penalty of death or thereabouts. There were also instructions for the postmaster to ensure it was delivered on a specific date. My immediate thought was “summons” (I don’t know what they look like here) so I reluctantly tore off the strips and opened it to discover it was actually notification from US Airlines that my frequent-flyer number had come up and I’d won two promotional airline tickets for anywhere in the US! Hmm, could it be a scam, I wondered? Well it had my frequently-flyer number, and I think I enrolled in the US Air frequent-flyer programme so it could be legit. Hey, if I call within 48 hours they’re also going to give me a $100 Dining Gift card! What could go wrong? And surely they wouldn’t be so brazen as to use the name of airline without permission.
Michele was more skeptical and after a quick Google found a question from someone, which confirmed it was a scam.
Here’s how it works. Tucked away in the mailing was another hidden page that you have to work hard to find. On it is written “Sponsored By IGlobe”, together with their temporary, rented, Philadelphia address, and a statement that a “60-minute presentation is required”. So you call, make an appointment and are promised you’ll walk out with the “vouchers for tickets”. You then have to sit through a time-share pitch and unless you sign up there and then, they “keep the vouchers for you.” If you want the vouchers at all, you have to send them the tax (which you are responsible for paying, according to more hidden smallprint) in advance, and they’ll mail the vouchers. Yeah, ok.
We got quite excited at the prospect of baiting some scammers and so immediately called. The phone was answered:
“Reservations, my name is Dumbass”
“Hi, I just got a letter telling me we’d won free airline tickets!” I said excitedly.
“Ah yes, can you give me your name and offer number?”
I did so.
“Ok, we’re IGlobe and this is a promotional offer so you’re required to attend a 60 minute presentation. We don’t do time-share, property leasing or…”
I love it when scammers try to divert attention from whatever racket they’re hawking by explicitly saying it isn’t what it is. “hi, this isn’t a sales call”, followed by a sales call, “hello, we’re in the area and we’re not selling anything”, followed by a double glazing pitch, “this isn’t a pyramid scheme”, before drawing a pyramid on a whiteboard. If only all crooks provided this service, it would make avoiding crime so much easier; burglars could ring the bell and tell you they’re not going to break in and steal all your gear just before they break in. You could make preparations! Bank robbers could change the wording of the note to “This isn’t a stick-up. But could you put all the money in this bag please to avoid getting shot. A much nicer world it would be. I digress.
“No it’s ok, all I really want is the tickets, so if you could send them.”
“No I’m afraid we can’t do that. If you look at the third page of the letter …[she explains how to find the hidden page]…if you attend the 60 minute presentation you’ll walk out with the vouchers.”
“No could you just send them to me, I’ll give you my address.”
“No we can’t do that sir, have a wonderful day…”
She hangs up. How rude!
I call back:
“Hello, I think there was some misunderstanding earlier, we appear to have been cut off!”
“Hold on a moment…”
She fetches the bitch in chief.
“Hi, I’m afraid we can’t send you the vouchers, you have to pick them up from the office.”
“Oh ok, can I come over today?”
“Yes! And you’ll need to attend the short presentation, but you’ll walk out with the vouchers.”
They weren’t going to budge, so I booked an appointment for 3:45 today and gave them our landline number, sans extension number. We’ll let Rufus deal with them.
It seems they are mobile scammers so expect them to be visiting your town very soon!
Halfway through writing a letter to US Airways to inform them about the abuse of their good name, I realised…doh!