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Sneaky free ticket scam is targeting Facebook and WhatsApp users

Sneaky free ticket scam is targeting Facebook and WhatsApp users
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What would you do if you had the opportunity to get some free airline tickets? With summer fast approaching and so many destinations worth visiting, you would jump at it, right?

No one would blame you for doing so, but as is the case with any offer that seems to be amazing, it is important to take a closer look and make sure it is legitimate, too. Unfortunately, often times it isn't.

Such is the case for a scam that has made the rounds of late, as it promises free airfare to customers as part of an anniversary celebration. But instead of plane tickets, all you get is caught up in a phishing expedition.

At first glance, it looks like the real deal

This specific scam has been seen on Facebook and has also targeted people who use WhatsApp, a messaging system that is popular across all platforms. In both versions, it tries to entice its victims by sending a message saying Virgin Atlantic is giving away a pair of tickets per family in honor of its 35th anniversary.

The link to claim the tickets looks enticing and believable enough:

Photo by Matt Boddy, Naked Security

Looks good, right? Well, take a closer look at the "r" in the link. Notice anything strange? We'll help. See that small dot under the r? (seriously, it's not a spec of dust on your screen, look closely) It's not an image issue -- it's an actual letter from the Latin alphabet.

Keep in mind that scams like this do not work unless they look believable, and for someone who is excited about the prospects of free airline tickets, it would be easy to assume this is worth looking into. So what happens if you don't realize something is amiss with the link and click on it?

Well, you are taken to a new site with the URL www.xn--viginatlantic-jm1g.com, which is obviously not a place you should want to visit. When you do, a survey asking about your travel history as well as some other personal information will pop up, all in the name of getting you those free tickets.

Little seems off about the page, with official graphics and some fake Facebook comments about the promotion displayed. Once done you are asked to share the message with 20 friends or groups using a button, which then takes you to another page that requests even more information from you.

The key is paying attention

This is not the first scam of this kind and certainly will not be the last. If you happened to get caught up in this one, you will have to think of the information you provided and decide if there are things you will have to update or change.

How do you avoid falling for it?

As is the case with many phishing scams, the best way to avoid falling prey is to be somewhat vigilant before clicking. Make sure there are no obvious errors that would give its true intentions away, and then look even closer to see if there is anything that looks even just a little bit off. Go directly to the brand's site, or look for their verified accounts. If they are promoting such an amazing deal, it will be all over their website.

There is one last thing to always remember: As disappointing as it may be, offers that look too good to be true generally are not.

Speaking of flights, you can see real-time air control traffic around the world

Have you ever wondered how many planes are in the air at any given time? You probably figured the answer is "a lot," but never really knew the actual number. Well, there are indeed a lot of planes in the sky at any given time and you can see and learn about them all with this really cool site.

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