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Fake-Alaska Airline scam

I think I escaped this scam today, but I won't feel safe until I'm on my flight tomorrow.

I tried to do online checkin for my British Air flight this morning, and the website said I have to do it at the ticket counter, probably because of passport checks etc? I wanted to call Alaska (the operator of my first leg) to check that assumption, since they didn't recognize my BA confrimation number, and told my phone to "call Alaska Airlines" which connected me with a boiler room full of poor English speakers (very authentic for most customer service). They claimed my first reservation was "standby" and not confirmed, which is not what BA showed. Anyway, to make a very long story slightly shorter, I coughed up $1370 to "confirm" my unconfirmed flights. Their convoluted explanation for the charges made me realize there must be a scam afoot, so I hung up, checked the phone number, and realized the "call Alaska" phone issue. They called me back, I explained my suspicions, and said I'd call them back if I was able to confirm any of it. Of course, Alaska has a 4 hour queue time, and BA isn't accepting any calls unless you get lucky. I was eventually able to confirm the flights were just fine.

Anyway, the scammer was myflightdiscount.com and they bill through bansaltravelsinc.com of San Ramon, CA. The charge appeared on my credit card website, but just as quickly disappeared.

I suddenly feel older and dumber than just yesterday...

Posted by
5752 posts

Sorry this happened to you. There are multiple lessons to be learned here, I think.

Posted by
11441 posts

From whom did you buy the ticket?

I wanted to call Alaska (the operator of my first leg) to check that assumption, since they didn't recognize my BA confrimation number, and told my phone to "call Alaska Airlines" which connected me with a boiler room full of poor English speakers (very authentic for most customer service).

Who told your phone to "call Alaska Airlines" and connected you to a boiler room? Who didn't recognie your BA confirmation number?

If you bought your ticket from a third party then that's who you were talking to. Not Alaska Airlines.

Posted by
215 posts

I bought my tickets thru British Air. "I" told my phone to call Alaska. I was surprised that Alaska didn't recognize my Conf#.

Posted by
1236 posts

That doesn't add up. I'm not sure who you called but it doesn't sound like Alaska Air or BA Airlines. Did you buy your ticket from a third party? I've called Alaska and BA numerous times and never had this happen.

Posted by
402 posts

You asked Siri or a Siri equivalent to call Alaska and it connected you to a scammer?

Posted by
215 posts

I apparently wasn't clear enough.

I asked my phone to "call Alaska" and it dialed a number which also happens to come up first if you google "Call Alaska Air". I didn't even notice the phone number until after my suspicions were aroused. Once I gave my Conf# to the agent, they could make up anything about my itinerary they wanted. There's no question that I got myself into this because I expected Alsaka's website to find BA's Conf#.

Posted by
3346 posts

Sorry OP, but this was your not so smart phone's fault, if not it's operator's. Next time you want to call someone, input the actual, verified phone number.

Posted by
215 posts

I'm just trying to save anyone else from this problem. It wasn't a scam I expected, and expecting my phone to call the right number seems simple enough. I might be the first time I ever used voice commands, and it will be the last.

Posted by
2490 posts

Alaska airlines has a published 800 customer sevicenumber. Dial it directly, do not ask Siri to figure out who to call based on some algorithm. And your complaint about being charged should have been directed immediately to your credit card with complaint of fraud on the apart of the merchant.. Again by dialing the number , not by asking Siri to call it.

Sorry to be harsh, but you deal directly.

And of course Alaska will not have BA's PRN. May I ask exactly how and where the flights were booked? And yes, BA will want to see your passport, though if it had already been provided to them on your passenger information that would have speeded things up.

Posted by
371 posts

As I read your explanation, Alaska Airlines did nothing wrong and did not scam you.

However, your phone may have been in cahoots with the scammers. IMO, you should report your phone to the attorney general of your state. The AG may want to file charges against it.

Posted by
215 posts

Correct. Alaska Air did nothing wrong, except maybe having a four hours expected wait for customer support. Our county sheriff is on the way with a swap team to deal with my phone and Google.

The scammer was using Alaska for their search ranking, but they probably use them all.

Posted by
402 posts

Thanks for the warning. I know many individuals who use their voice to have their phones dial numbers etc. Good reminder not to become too reliant on your phone making the correct call.

Posted by
9914 posts

Thank you for detailing your experience. And thanks for modifying your title.

So glad the charge dropped off your CC and that you didn't have to go thru them to get this reversed.

There are a number of times that the first result on google is not the actual official provider. I post a lot on Trip Advisor for Yellowstone and people are always getting tangled up booking lodging thru a 3rd party and paying a whopping surcharge after they google something like "Yellowstone lodging" and click on the 1st hit without taking a minute to see if it's the real concessioner or an ad.

Thank you for the warning.

Posted by
1583 posts

You still need to call your credit card company as the scammer has your credit card number. I’d close it out.

Posted by
215 posts

You might be right about my card, but I'm leaving tomorrow and getting a replacement is a non-starter. I'll just have to keep watch. They have been very good with contested charges.

Posted by
2490 posts

And here is maybe why your phone dialed an incorrect number. If you have followed this board over the last couple years you would have seen a ton of fake posts from from offshore boiler rooms advertising that they were the number to call for United. Or American. Or BA. Or Alaska. And so on. And always with he exact same text for each, and the same phone number. Our webmaster has always gotten this stuff removed expeditiously, but that was what was posted only here, he has no control over all the other fake postings for these that populate the web. And now I understand why the people behind those scam numbers go to the trouble of plastering our web page, and numerous others, with this. The info, before disappearing, gets caught by search engines. And gets caught enough times for the engine to think that is the valid number since it has seen it the most.

In your case, you asked your phone to find this, and it found the number it saw the most. It had no idea, nor any reason to have any idea, that this was a fake number.

The hard lesson, pretend it is 15 years ago when you need to make a call - research the number needed yourself, verify that it is from the real web page and not a fake one if need be (the real page will access actual information regarding flights and such), and dial it directly, rather than asking Siri to make a call.

Posted by
2490 posts

Regarding your credit card, yes watch for charges. What is more likely is that the credit card number will be sold on the dark web, and months from now bogus charges will suddenly appear from someone else who has purchased the card. Hopefully it will start with a small transaction that you will notice or the bank will question (a ship to address that in no way matches the cardholder's address is a huge and quick red flag), this is s.o.p. when using a card fraudulently - try something small to verify the card is working, and then exploit it. We just went through this with a CapOne card used by my daughter for emergency use only (CapOne gives all of us different card numbers). She had not used it in over a year, essentially for work-related travel that week-and it apparently got skimmed at a gas station a couple states away. 15 months later a questionable charge for cosmetics appeared, by the time I called (I was notified) it had dropped and there was a new different charge from the same business. We called CapOne, canceled her card, no issue with the charges, and I tracked down the business. They found the charges, made by a new account there, and then informed me that about a dozen charges had been made on that account the night before - every one with a different credit card (save for the 2 attempts on ours). For your own sake have your bank cancel and issue a new card as soon as possible.

Posted by
13211 posts

Unfortunately the mistake was yours, in asking “Siri” or whoever you have on your rSmartphone to call Alaska Air. There are lots of ways that could go wrong. The number for Alaska Airlines is (800) 252-7522, but as you know you cannot get through on that line. Nor can you get through to British Airways.

FWIW, we fly British Airways all the time (except fhe past 2 years) and while we are member of their “club”, have booked directly with them, are flying in Business Class, have filled in all the Advance Passenger Information (passport information, etc.), and have a long record with them, we are never able to do online checkin for our overseas flight. We have to check in at the airport and get our boarding pass there.

Posted by
5752 posts

Currently, because of extra pandemic-related document checks, it's very common to be unable to fully check-in online for international travel -- in many cases, it needs to be done manually at the check-in counter, old school style. So at least that part of your experience is nothing out of the ordinary.

When you start yelling at your phone or other nearby objects, all bets are off.

Posted by
9914 posts

@Larry…I had no idea the story behind those stupid spam posts. Also appreciate the experience you had with your daughter’s CC.

Posted by
11441 posts

I mostly fly AA and BA from the USA to the UK--sorry, I just had to use abbreviations. I have never had a problem with online check in. I do have to show my passport at the gate-or in the lounge--but that's it. The same was true with Icelandair a few years ago.

For those having trouble, are you sure you're passport information is included in your reservation and updated? I find joining the frequent flyer program for the airline--it's free--automatically ads my passport and trusted traveler info by just giving them my FF number.