“I’m not ready to call it a scam, yet. But I would be very, very cautious,” said Robbie Namee of the Better Business Bureau about a letter offering an award of two roundtrip airline tickets anywhere in the Continental United States. Letters like it have many Kansans concerned.
Several viewers contacted us suspicious the offer was a scam. When we looked into it, we found that while the offer appears to be valid the airline on the header doesn't exist.
Here at KWCH we received not only several e-mails about the letters offering two free airline tickets, at least two employees also received the letters. They weren’t alone.
“We've had several come into the office and we've had several calls on them, a lot of calls on them,” said Namee. She also says these letters are from the same company that sent out a similar series of letters a couple months ago. “They looked like travel vouchers, like a ticket.”
One clue something's not quite right, the header says US Airlines. There is no such airline. There is a U.S. Airways, but it doesn't fly out of Wichita. And, when we called the number on the letter, they started asking for personal information, like income, age, name and e-mail address.
“They're looking for specific demographics to come and attend their seminars,” Namee said.
The official pitch is that they'll give you two airline tickets, good anywhere in the Continental United States, if you'll come in and take a tour of a new discount travel agency. But it’s an agency that really only exists online, TravelDealsXPress.com.
The operator called it a 'word of mouth' campaign for a new company. Their website says it's cheaper than advertising and saves customers money. But you still have to pay the fees and taxes on the tickets.
“It's just a random mailing,” said Namee. “I think they're just going through and probably pulling names off a database or somewhere.”
And, once they think they've got you, they offer a little bit more to make sure you come in. To us, they offered free hotel rooms for the trip, if we confirmed immediately.
“Be cautious, be very cautious,” said Namee.
When we identified ourselves as being with the media, they were still willing to talk to us. But, when we asked if we could record the conversation for broadcast purposes, we were transferred to customer service, which apparently was closed for the day. We left a message
Another tip things are a little off? Once you've made an appointment to tour the agency, they insist you bring photo I.D. and a credit card, although they're quick to assure you it will never leave your hand.