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Scam Alert: Free airline tickets scam circulates

Imagine the surprise: you open your mail to find out you’ve won free round-trip airfare to any city in the United States.

A hand-full of local folks are getting the good news. One of them is Nancy Collard of Idaho Falls.

“I was immediately suspicious,” said Collard.

Collard contacted our station about the scam. She said, she knows a scam when she sees one, but this looked tempting.

“Congratulations, these tickets are valid for travel anywhere in the continental U.S.,” read the letter.

Oh the places she could go, she thought.

“Hopeful is a good word,” she said. “I thought, ‘That would be great!'”

But then, the pieces of this puzzle started coming apart.

“The envelope didn’t have a return address,” said Collard.

Collard read through the short letter from U.S. Airlines. At first she confused it with U.S. Airways, but quickly realized the former doesn’t even exist.

“I just knew there was a problem,” she said.

Collard typed “U.S. Airlines” into a Google search. The first few search results included questions like, “Is this a scam?” It wasn’t a good sign, but Collard wanted to investigate further.

“I thought, ‘I’m going to call it just to play it out and see what they say,'” she said.

She called the 1 (800) number in the letter. A woman on the other end of the line got right down to business.

“You have to have a credit card,” Collard remembers the woman saying.

Collard explained she and her husband don’t use credit cards, and that seemed to be a deal breaker.

“She said, ‘Oh well then you don’t qualify,'” recalled Collard.

Our station’s verdict: Yes, this is a scam. There is no free trip waiting for you.

Our station has also confirmed this scam is circulating locally. Collard actually received two of the free ticket offers. Both letters had no return address and were postmarked in Arizona.

Eyewitness News anchor Todd Kunz tells us he’s received the same letter in the mail as well.

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