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Last updated: August 30, 2012
First published: August 30, 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer
These emails, which are disguised as "travel confirmation" notifications from US based airline Southwest, claim that recipients have been awarded a voucher for two free Southwest flight tickets. The messages instruct recipients to verify their postal information and claim their free tickets by clicking links in the emails. They also warn that recipients have only one day left to claim their free flights.
However, the emails have no connection to Southwest whatsoever and the offer of free flights is entirely bogus. Links in the messages open a webpage that automatically redirects users to one of many spam websites that peddle various products and services. Some of the websites offer access to "adult" online dating services; some offer dubious software or online security services; some falsely claim that users can win expensive prizes in exchange for participating in various surveys that require them to provide mobile phone numbers and other personal and contact details; some may contain malware that users may inadvertently download to their computers. The survey scam sites typically attempt to trick people into signing up for very expensive SMS services or providing their contact details to unscrupulous online marketers. Southwest has been previously targeted in similar survey scams.
In an apparent attempt to bypass spam filters, these messages are created as a graphic rather than text. And, although the messages appear to contain various links, in fact the entire graphic is a clickable link. Thus, clicking anywhere in the message - even accidentally - will take the clicker to the redirect webpage and onward to further spam and scam websites.
If you receive one of these spam messages do not click any links that it contains. If you do accidentally click, close your browser window as quickly as possible and do not follow any instructions displayed on the bogus websites. Be aware that similar spam campaigns may use the names of other well-known airlines or travel services.
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