In a recent article, KATU.com investigated a travel scam that was the subject of a nationwide alert from the Better Business Bureau.Reminds Caribbean Cruise Line, scam artists are often responsible for any travel offer that seems “too good to be true”.
KATU.com reports that an offer for free airline tickets that began arriving in mailboxes in September is a scam. The Better Business Bureau has flagged the letter, from US Airlines, which promises two round-trip tickets to anywhere in the continental U.S. However, there is no such airline, and the offer exists to lure people into buying memberships for a dubious travel club.
Larry Wittenberg of Portland received such a letter a few months ago.
“I saw this notice that said, ‘Award notification –urgent.’ And there was a deadline of October 3rd,”” says Wittenberg. “Well, it was October 2nd. We take Rhodes Scholar trips, we take AAA trips, maybe it has something to do with that? How’s it going to hurt me to go to this appointment? So we set up a time and date.”
Corroborates a representative for Caribbean Cruise Line, “Scam artists use the ‘act now’ tactic to great effect—you won’t think as critically as you normally would if you think time will run out on a great deal.”
KATU.com launched an investigative report, and they found that Travel Deals Express had a lot in common with another company that had changed its name when the media caught wind of its phony offerings. The web site for Travel Deals Express had features of a legitimate service provider, but their “our locations” link led nowhere.
When Larry Wittenberg attended the appointment to collect his “prize”, itlead to another company: “They had a banner up that said Vacation Smart International,” says Wittenberg.
Says the representative for Caribbean Cruise Line, “Scam artists often use a series of shell companies to perpetrate their schemes. Multiple company names are definitely a warning sign.”
As it turns out, both household decision-makers had to be present to hear the sales pitch—Wittenberg was turned away.Six other couples continued on, including Joyce Rolloson and her husband.
She says that she was told, “They have a travel agency down in Florida that they say has all these travel people and you give them a call and they work on all the special deals. They buy in bulk, according to them. And then they sell it to you, their member.”
There is no way to verify these claims of savings, since non-members can’t access the deals to compare prices or see whom they’re buying from.
Rolloson ended up spending $4,200 after attending the appointment.In a statement to KATU, the company said that customers had a 3-day rescission period. This is in accordance with Oregon law, but Rollosonwas told she couldn’t do anything for a week while the paperwork was processed. By then, it may be too late for her to receive a refund.
The company also denied responsibility for the US Airlines promotion, blaming it on the marketing company they hired. This company was the Arizona-based MDP, which was presenting itself as Travel Smart Express. They promised to fire them if an investigation of their own reveals any wrong-doing.
The Caribbean Cruise Line Scam Watch was created to monitor the travel industry for fraudulent activity. They work in conjunction with Caribbean Cruise Line, who offers unforgettable vacation packages aboard their award-winning flagship, the Bahamas Celebration.