Beware of This New Air Canada Scam Going Around (One Traveler Lost $500)

Since the rise of air travel as a regular mode of transportation, there have also been scammers trying to capitalize on some travelers’ desire to score a cheap deal (or sometimes simply curiosity around the airline industry.)

In the 1980s, a popular pyramid scheme called “the airplane game” got victims to pay $1,500 to become “passengers” on a fictional airplane on the promise that they would then be able to reap returns as they move up to “flight attendants” and eventually “pilots.”

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While authorities in both the US and Europe eventually cracked down on the scheme, the ensuing decades brought with them endless variations of airline-related scams and hoaxes.


Latest Airline Scam Points People Toward Fake Call Center Number

A recent one to make the rounds has passengers dial a call center number that is not actually connected to the airline. As the entire airline industry deals with chronic understaffing and looks to maximize staff time by redirecting travelers toward online portals and chatbots, many travelers are desperately Googling around to find a number that will let them “speak to a real person.”

As recounted to airline industry website Points Guy, Cathy Chang used 85,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to redeem a one-way flight from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia through Air Canada  (ACDVF) – Get Free Report‘s Aeroplan loyalty program. She received the ticket booking immediately after purchase.

As the May 2023 departure date loomed, Chang wondered about check-in details from the carrier running the flight. Chang started searching for a number to call to reach the airline.

“I Googled ‘Air Canada San Francisco Airport’ and called the number in the top result,” Chang told the travel website. “All I wanted to know was what time the counter opened. The lady who answered the phone said, ‘Air Canada. How can I help?'”

According to Chang, the woman on the other end asked for her name and flight details and then said that she needed to pay $675 Canadian dollars [roughly $493 USD at the time and $504 in August 2023] to select and confirm a seat.”

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While confused about why she was being charged extra after getting a booked ticket, Chang gave the person on the phone her credit card out of fear that she’d lose the flight.

After getting off the phone, Chang had a nagging feeling that something was wrong and decided to call the airline again. She found another number on the airline’s website and soon discovered that she had “been talking to sophisticated scammers.”

While the flight was booked months ago and still valid, Chang was out $500 and had to jump through many hoops to get it back. The credit card she used from JPMorgan Chase & Co.  (JPM) – Get Free Report to make the payment initially did not believe that it had not come from Air Canada (the scammers had registered under that name) while attempts to go through the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau stalled.

“When I reviewed the documentation she sent me, I could see why a Chase agent had rejected her credit card dispute on the basis of fraud: the charges identified the merchant as Air Canada,” writes the Points Guy’s Michelle Couch-Friedman. “The only peculiarity to the purchase line item was the phone number listed with the entry: 844-914-3710.”


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