Unlikely Tour Reservation Scam

How many times have I gotten these? Too many to count.

Got this in my email inbox for Flying M Air yesterday.

Reservation Email
This simple message has plenty of flags to indicate it’s a scam.

Looks good, huh? Three days worth of helicopter tours for four people. Cha-ching!

It’s fake, of course. Want to know how I can tell? Here are the flags:

  • “Vacation in your state.” Which state is that? Believe it or not, I’m still getting requests from people who think I still operate in Arizona. (I left the state in 2013.) The vagueness of this screams “boilerplate” or “template.” It also makes me wonder how many other tour operators got the exact same message yesterday.
  • “Reservation for 2 couples.” My aircraft only holds three passengers. Martin obviously hasn’t done his homework before dangling his credit card.
  • “Confirm availability and total cost.” How could I possibly calculate a “total cost” if I have no idea what he wants?
  • No phone number. The sender hasn’t provided any method other than an email address to contact him. Why not?
  • Sender Gmail account. Yes, I know that real people have Gmail accounts, too. But do they usually spell their last names wrong in the account address?

Yes, this is a scam. I actually played along with one of these years ago to see what he wanted. You can read the details here. How interesting to see that it’s still being played. I guess there are enough suckers out there to make trying it worthwhile.

Don’t get scammed. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

4 thoughts on “Unlikely Tour Reservation Scam

  1. These scams are so shoddy it is hard to believe any serious helicopter charter business would get sucked in.
    As you say, you are not flying a Chinook for wedding parties.
    I don’t get many emails of that sort but I do receive many idiot phone calls telling me that there is a fault with my broadband line and if I merely send them my credit card details all will be sorted for a modest fee.
    The calls all come from India, which is clever, because British Telecom (our largest monopoly franchise for digital stuff, wires, fibre and Internet) has outsourced all their customer service needs to India. The real BT people in India are quite polite and knowledgeable; alas a whole fake industry of scammers has tried to imitate the genuine company.
    Latest transcript follows:
    “Hello sir, you have problem with wifi”
    “(Me) Do I? Seems to be OK right now.”
    “No, yes sir, bad problem, we can help”
    “(Me). Do you have my ISP and hub code?”
    “Of course sir”
    “(Me). Great, what is it, what is my surname?
    “You Thomas Thomas”. (False, of course)
    “(Me). Jeez, I must be sicker than I thought. Have a nice day”.

    • The trouble is, as long as they can hook ONE person, it’s worth trying. The best we can do is toy with them, forcing them to waste their time answering questions. If we all did that and they lost in the end, they might stop. But since that’ll never happen, they won’t.

      There’s a Windows repair scam going around in the U.S. with Indian callers. My sister has been called several times and, if she’s not busy, she plays with them. There are videos on YouTube of people playing with them, too. Most of it’s pretty funny stuff. But imagine if that call went to your mom or another older person who isn’t very savvy about computers and security. They’d likely give the caller anything he wanted.

      A bigger scam here is the IRS scam, where they call from the IRS and say the police are on their way to make an arrest. Some idiots in this country are stupid enough to fall for this one and wind up giving money orders to strangers.

      I guess my point is: as long as there are gullible people, there will be scammers. And I think that’s why I keep blogging about the ones that cross my desk: I want to help educate the people who might not be able to see the scam.

    • You are right.
      There are gullible people in every generation and there will always be a scammer aiming at them. In time, I will be part of the vulnerable generation as techy stuff will have evolved beyond my understanding.
      Ten years ago my lovely, gentle neighbour, a widow, was visited by a gang of tough guys who said they could Tarmac (asphalt?) her drive for $6k. She was developing dementia and had a lot of cash in her house. My wife saw this huge 16 wheeler tipper and heavy roller in her drive and called the police. They were great. The police took their vehicle numbers and their ‘names’, retrieved the cash, and told them to get lost. Before the job started.
      Our neighbour died five years ago, but she fell foul of all manner of scams before she went to an old peoples’ home. Some scams are high tech, others very low.

What do you think?