Over the past few years, the police at PTI have seen an uptick in the number of people who have become victims of online scams. This blog will inform you about airport-related scams and alert you to the warning signs of certain scams.

 

COMMON AIRPORT SCAMS

One prevalent type of scam that has been observed at the airport is the romance scam. This scam typically begins online, where the victim meets the scammer on a dating website. From there, the relationship progresses until the scammer proposes to catch a flight so the couple can meet. It is at this point that the scammer asks the victim to send money for a ticket. When the victim arrives at the airport to pick up the supposed love interest, the scammer is nowhere to be found. The victim has lost the money sent to the scammer, and the scammer disappears from the victim’s life. Scammers often use false names and photos to prevent identification by law enforcement.

Another common scam involves a claim that an individual’s loved one is being held in jail at the airport. Usually, the scammer will identify a victim, and then conduct background research on that person. The scammer will use online sources to find the names of family members, spouse and friends of the victim. After getting this information, the scammer will call the victim to report that one of the victim’s loved ones is in the “airport jail” and needs money to be sent for bail. However, the airport police department does not have a jail and does not hold people. The victim arrives at the airport to pick up his or her loved one, only to discover that there is no jail and that the victim has been scammed.

 

ONLINE SCAM WARNING SIGNS

A good way to avoid online scams is be aware of certain characteristics of these scams. For example, the romance scammer usually poses as someone from overseas, which explains the need for large amounts of money to purchase an airline ticket. It also makes the scammer much more difficult to track down and identify. Romance scammers often pose as individuals in specific professions. Romance scammers may pose as a member of the military, or as a successful engineer or fashion model. The appearance of success gives the victim false confidence that the scammer could not be seeking money because the scammer apparently already has money.

Scammers in general tend to target older populations. Older adults may have less familiarity with the Internet and Internet scams, which makes them a more vulnerable demographic.

Female scammers may pose as a mother with a sick child. The sick child plays on the victim’s desire to help others in need.

In the “jail” scam mentioned above, the scammer will often pose as a lawyer, police officer, or other airport or government employee to convince the victim that the loved one is legitimately being held.

 

HOW TO Avoid Scams

Here are some general suggestions for avoiding online scams:

  • Never transfer money to somebody that you have not met in person.
  • Do not assume that anyone you meet online is telling you the truth about who they are or what they do.
  • Be suspicious if a person on the Internet has one or more of the scammer characteristics described in the section above.
  • Do not open or respond to emails from individuals or companies that you do not know.
  • Be especially wary of online dating sites, as they are increasingly being used to scam people.
  • Remember that the airport does not have a jail, and the airport police do not hold people at the terminal.
  • If you are ever a victim of a scam, you can report the crime to the police.
  • If you are unsure of whether or not you are being scammed, you can reach out to our airport police communications line at 336-665-5642.
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