More than a million people were fooled by a scam offering free tickets on Southwest Airlines.  The scam originated on a phony Facebook page of “Southwest Air Fans” and was shared by many people.  The Facebook post indicated that Southwest was celebrating its 69th anniversary by giving away free tickets to anyone who responded to the email.  However, if you did respond to the email you were prompted to answer endless surveys.  However, there are no free tickets and if you complete the survey, you turn over information to a scammer who can use it to make you a victim of identity theft.  I reported on this scam in 2017 when the scam first appeared.

In response to the scam, the real Southwest Airlines posted the following on their real Facebook page.

Many of you may have seen this post from a fake account claiming to offer two roundtrip tickets. While we like great flight deals as much as the next airline, this one is unfortunately not real, and wasn’t posted by Southwest Airlines.
Remember to check for that little blue checkmark that verifies whether the account behind the post is genuine! And, for the record, we’re celebrating our 51st anniversary this year, not our 69th. 😉

A good starting point for recognizing that this is a scam is the fact that Southwest Airlines only began in 1967, so it is a long way off from its 69th birthday.

These types of scams entice people to share and like the posting in order to take advantage of Facebook’s algorithms that value the popularity of postings measured by likes and shares which then appear on the Facebook pages of more people.  Scammers are able to change the content of what is shared or liked to something entirely different through a technique called “farming.”  This is often done in order to send advertising or gather marketing information, but it also can be done to send malware infected content that can steal personal information from your computer and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.

When you see one of these “too good to be true” offers, the best course of action is to check with the company’s legitimate website where you will learn whether or not the offer is indeed legitimate.

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