A fake post on Facebook has fooled 7,000 people into sharing it in the hopes of winning a free 10-day trip to the Maldives.
The post appeared to be from travel firm Thomas Cook Airlines and said the holiday was being offered for free by the company after a couple split up and could not go.
Oddly, the post implied the couple were not even getting a refund but had agreed to let the company give it away online.
“I thought, ‘Oh, a free holiday!'”
The Facebook post said: “A couple has cancelled a holiday for two in The Maldives due to a break-up, unfortunately, the holiday which is in August was non-refundable so the 10 night holiday will be given away free to someone who has shared in the next 4 hours.”
One eagle-eyed Facebook user from Leicester spotted the post and recognised it as a scam.
He said: “It popped up on my Facebook page feed and I thought, ‘Oh, free holiday!’
“It was offering 10 days in the Maldives because a couple had broken up and cancelled. I thought it sounded too good to be true.
“It said 7,000 people had shared the message and it looked like lots of real people were commenting on it and tagging each other.”
We contacted Thomas Cook and they immediately got in touch with Facebook and had the page, which had the address www.facebook.com/ThomasCookTC, taken down.
The official Thomas Cook UK Facebook page can be found here and can be distinguished by its official blue tick.
The original Thomas Cook company was set up in the 19th century in the East Midlands, by entrepreneur and cabinet maker Thomas Cook, who wanted to organise rail trips between Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Birmingham for members of the anti-alcohol temperance movement.
Thomas Cook Group now employs more than 21,000 people around the world.
What Thomas Cook Airlines had to say
A Thomas Cook Airlines spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the fake page and have already reported it to Facebook to ask for it to be removed.
“Our social media team advise any customers who believe they have seen a fake page to also report it directly to Facebook.”
Every year, Trading Standards across the region receive complaints from people who have been scammed by fraudsters who take money for holiday flights and accommodation which do not exist.
Some frauds involve scammers setting up fake websites and posting fake accommodation listings online and on social media.
“Scam reports always go up at this time of the year”
Leicestershire County Council’s Trading Standards team this week warned would-be holidaymakers to be on the lookout for holiday scams and to take precautions to avoid booking fraud.
Gary Connors, head of regulatory services at Leicestershire County Council, said: “Reports of customers paying out hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds for flights and accommodation which never materialise, always go up at this time of the year and we want to warn people to be on the lookout for this type of scam.
“If a holiday deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
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Source URL: Google News