Earlier this November, CNET reported a dangerous trend: several fake Instagram accounts, “impersonating” American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and JetBlue, and promising travelers free flights.
CNET reporter, Roger Cheng, mentioned @americanairlines_giveaways, @united_giveaways, @jetbluegiveaways, and @delta_giveaways, all fake Instagram accounts, which promised free airline tickets to the first several thousand followers. Naturally, the accounts generated thousands of followers in a matter of days, and they were not the only ones.
At Tnooz, Nick Vivion reported other impersonators, like @unitedairlinesgiveaways, @jetblue_giveaways, @jetblueairlinegiveaway, @jetbluegiveaway_, @deltaairlinegiveaway, @deltaairlines, @delatairlines_giveaways, @deltaairlinesweepstakes, @deltadomesticoffers, and @americanairlines_free.
Official Airline accounts on Twitter warned followers that the Instagram giveaway accounts were fake, reminding people that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
JetBlue does not have an official @instagram account. Any accounts or promotions you may currently see there are not ours.
— JetBlue Airways (@JetBlue) November 4, 2012
While Instagram dealt with the situation, and the aforementioned scam accounts were deleted, the situation creates a dangerous precedent. There’s no telling how many other scam Instagram accounts are still active, and it is hard to identify them. Things are much worse.
According to Symantec, the scams take on a number of forms, from spam comments, to fake followers, to liking photos in the hopes people will check out their profiles, which in turn often contain more spam links.
Keep in mind, if you are using Instagram, or other social networks, not to fall for scams. Scam can target any business, not only airlines, but also hotels, restaurant, and other travel-related services.