Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA) is trying to make flyers aware of an increasingly disturbing occurrence at the airport.
PTIA officials are explaining some of the most common scams that passengers need to know about – and they’re also offering advice as to how not to fall prey to one of these schemes.
Many people don’t realize that the airport has its own police force, but it does, and, according to those officers, over the past few years, they’ve seen more and more people taken in by airport-based scams.
Here’s one common scam – called the “Romance Scam” – which has worked on some PTIA flyers.
“This scam typically begins online,” the description states, “where the victim meets the scammer on a dating website. From there, the relationship progresses until the scammer proposes to catch a flight so the couple can meet. It is at this point that the scammer asks the victim to send money for a ticket. When the victim arrives at the airport to pick up the supposed love interest, the scammer is nowhere to be found. The victim has lost the money sent to the scammer, and the scammer disappears from the victim’s life. Scammers often use false names and photos to prevent identification by law enforcement.”
Airport police don’t want to see any more heartbroken lovers waiting sadly at a PTIA terminal for their one true love when they are actually waiting for Godot.
Another scam PTIA police have seen involves someone claiming that an individual’s loved one “is being held in jail at the airport.”
The perpetrator has usually done some background research – using social media, etc. – regarding the person who’s supposedly being held. The scammer will contact friends and family and ask for bail money.
One thing that will help you not be taken in by this scam is knowing that, while PTIA does indeed have a police force, it does not have a jail, and it doesn’t lock people up on the premises.
Airport officials say there are lots of clues to be on the lookout for. Romance scammers, for instance, may pose as “a member of the military, or as a successful engineer or fashion model.”
Also, the perpetrators tend to go after older adults.
Female scammers may pose as a mother with a sick child to play on people’s desire to help others in need.
If you’re not sure whether something at the airport is on the up and up, you can call the airport police at 336-665-5642.
Here is PTIA’s list of tips on how to avoid scams:
- Never transfer money to somebody that you haven’t met in person.
- Don’t assume that anyone you meet online is who they say they are or has the job they say they do.
- Be suspicious if someone you meet on the internet has any of the “scammer characteristics” described above.
- Don’t open or respond to emails from individuals or companies that you don’t know.
- Be especially suspicious of online dating sites, which are increasingly being used to instigate scams.
- Remember that PTIA doesn’t have a jail, and the airport police don’t hold people at the terminal.
- If you’re ever a victim of a scam, report the crime to the police or the airport police.