“Scammers are very savvy, and they are creating email addresses that look convincing and using names of Airport staff members to lure their victims,” Aviation General Manager Louis Miller said. “Unfortunately, many people believe these claims and are defrauded of hundreds of dollars before they realize that the claims are not legitimate. We urge everyone to use extra vigilance with any offers that appear too good to be true.”
One of the most prevalent scams is a recurring one in which the scammer uses the Airport logo and asks the recipient to send cash so that a dog or other animal can be transported to him or her. The scam often involves online ads or unsolicited emails that offer to sell and ship pets — such as puppies, birds and monkeys — from overseas.
After the buyer “purchases” the pet, the “seller” requests additional money, frequently claiming that the pet is sick and is being held at the Airport until it receives vaccinations needed to pass through Customs. The scam victim often pays the additional money and contacts the Department of Aviation at Hartsfield-Jackson for details about obtaining the pet.
In another scam, the recipient is contacted by a scammer using the name of a top Hartsfield-Jackson official, who tells the person that a bag with his or her name has been left at the Airport. When the person responds, he or she is told that the bag contains a large sum of money, often millions of dollars, and that the money will be sent to him or her in exchange for a processing fee. In other forms, the scammer asks for specific personal information to prove ownership of the money but really intends to use the information to steal the recipient’s identity.
Consumers should be on the alert for the following flags of a potential scam:
• Scam emails use unofficial Airport email addresses. All official Department of Aviation emails will have @atlanta-airport.com addresses. Scammers also have used other airports’ names and logos, so recipients should investigate suspicious emails from any airport.
• Be wary of sellers who communicate only through email. For example, a legitimate purchase of a pet should allow the buyer to communicate directly with the breeder and the veterinarian to inquire about the animal’s medical history.
• Beware of sellers who use pressure tactics in email communication.
• Avoid sellers who accept only wire payments or money orders. Use a payment method that offers fraud protection, such as a credit card.
Consumers who suspect they have been victims of scams should contact their state’s attorney general or the U.S. Secret Service Field Office to report Internet fraud. Additional information on cybercrime is available at www.cybercrime.gov .
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Hartsfield-Jackson is the world’s busiest airport, serving more than 92 million passengers annually with nonstop service to 160 U.S. destinations and nearly 70 international destinations in more than 45 countries. The Airport is a frequent recipient of awards of excellence for concessions, operations, architectural engineering and construction - including the 2011 Global and North American Airport Efficiency Excellence Award from the Air Transport Research Society (for more information, go to www.atrsworld.org). It is undergoing $6 billion-plus in capital improvements, which include a new, energy-efficient rental car center; a new, 12-gate international terminal (for more information, go to www.atlanta-airport.com/internationalterminal/;and aesthetic and functional upgrades to its concourses, people movers and parking services. For more information, go to www.atlanta-airport.com. Check out the Airport’s YouTube channel by visiting http://www.youtube.com/AtlantaHartsfield, and become a fan on Facebook.