Palo Alto police are warning residents about an ongoing, nationwide Internet scam involving the sale of counterfeit or fraudulently purchased airline vouchers. Police have received several calls recently about the scam, Detective Brian Philip stated in a press release.
The scammer generally posts an advertisement on craigslist.org or a similar website stating that he or she is selling airline vouchers for a discounted price, according to the release.
Usually the vouchers are listed as Southwest Airlines "Green Passes," which allow people to book any round-trip flight at any price for free. When a potential buyer makes contact, the scammer asks that payment be made via wire transfer, by check or with an online gift card.
To "prove" the offer is authentic, the scammer then e-mails the buyer a counterfeit copy of his or her driver's license with false information.
After payment has gone through, the scammer tends to discontinue contact with the buyer and does not deliver the promised vouchers. Once the vouchers are finally delivered, they are found to be counterfeit or purchased with stolen credit card information, Philip said.
The widespread nature of the scam indicates that many unrelated scammers are involved, Philip said. Before purchasing travel vouchers, residents are encouraged to contact the involved airline directly since many restrict or prohibit resale of such vouchers.
Police advise residents to be cautious when making any online purchases from strangers, especially those who ask for an unusual form of payment. Any Palo Alto residents who have experienced defrauding in a way similar to this should contact the Palo Alto Police Department.