Free Cruise Travel Scams:

| November 10, 2008

"You've won a free cruise" the voice on the telephone says. But it doesn't take long for the initial excitement to become something else...

free cruise, yeah right

At one time or another, we all encounter problems with a company that refuses to honor its commitment. And according to the Federal Trade Commission, travel scams consistently rank near the top of its complaint list. I personally had a very close encounter recently.

At a county fair, I saw a booth with a big banner proclaiming "Enter to Win a Free Cruise!" I had to complete a form for a "drawing," so I filled it out, thinking, "Man, I've got to see what these jokers are up to." I gave them limited personal information -- some fictional -- and tossed it in the box.

About a week later I received a dinner-hour phone call. I had expected to get some kind of cut-rate offer, but I didn't expect what I heard next: "Mr. Motter, you have won a free cruise vacation." For just a minute, I was actually taken in. I was the first-prize winner, and that would mean something special -- something just for me.

So I asked them what I had won. They told me, "You have won a free Florida vacation, complete with free airfare, a free hotel, and a free cruise!"

"Really?" I asked, "All that and no strings attached?"

"That's right!" they said.

It took about 30 seconds for my bubble to burst. As soon as I asked them how it worked I knew it was a bucket of worms, and I was the fish on the line they were hoping to reel in.

As the details started hurling out of the mouth of the hustler on the phone, my original joy was replaced with unmitigated annoyance for the people who waste our valuble life time with lies like this.

The cruel hoax works like this:

  • I had won free airfare - but only in the form of a "companion ticket" if I booked a regular ticket with this agency at full fare.
  • I had won a free hotel stay - as long as my spouse and I attended a three-hour time-share presentation.
  • And the cruise was free - as long as I agreed to pay the "service and handling fees."
  • What kind of cruise? A one-day turn-around casino gambling cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to the Bahamas.

I should have hung up on them, but I decided to play along to see how far this scam would go. The moment of truth came when I asked what I had to do to collect my prize. "We will need a credit card number, right now, to hold the reservations for you."

"What reservations?" I asked, " I haven't made any reservations yet! I haven't gotten a single price quote from you, and we haven't talked about travel dates. Why do you need my credit card now?" They vaguely read off a script about standard deposit fees required to cover the air, hotel, cruise and transfers. Then they added in some service and handling fees and taxes, and a few disclaimers about blackout dates.

Continue Article >> The Scam Becomes More Apparent (Part 2)

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