x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Thousands duped by free Emirates flights to Dubai internet scam

The hoax promotion, launched on Instagram, a social media site on which users share photographs, said that the first 20,000 users to follow the account would receive two free tickets to Dubai.

Thousands thought they might be flying to Dubai for free in an Instagram hoax.  EPA / Ali Haider
Thousands thought they might be flying to Dubai for free in an Instagram hoax. EPA / Ali Haider

DUBAI// Thousands of people have been duped by a fake online campaign that promised free Emirates flights to Dubai.

The hoax promotion, launched on Instagram, a social media site on which users share photographs, said that the first 20,000 users to follow the account would receive two free tickets to Dubai.

However, Emirates have said it has nothing to do with the promotion.

"Emirates Airline does not have an official Instagram account," said a spokesman. "Any Emirates-related accounts or promotions on Instagram do not belong to us and are not valid."

The scam has been posted on Instagram displaying the Emirates logo. It reads: "Hello All. Our first 20,000 followers who share our page and tag & mention #EmiratesPromotion will receive two tickets in our economy class to Dubai."

The hoax has already generated 10,000 followers.

People were promised free flights if they shared the Instagram page and tagged them with the #EmiratesPromotion hashtag on Twitter.

Yet despite official denials, social media users were still posting excited messages urging others to sign up. "See you in Dubai," said Style Me Romy. "I'm not sure how legit this is, but hey what to lose. Come shisha with us in Arabia," tweeted Ardin Tuga. "Seems like me and all my Instagram friends will go to Dubai together," said Noor Hisham.

Sodi St Jean said: "Don't mind me. I'm just trying to travel the world. Make it happen EmiratesPromotion."

Mrs Management said: "Yes please, I could do with another vacation ... who's with me?"

Although some people had their doubts about the offer, they were choosing to promote it anyway.

"Some are saying this is fake but I'm willing to be fooled. Ha ha. Follow EmiratesPromotion," said Czen Bico. "#EmiratesPromotion. Hope it's true," tweeted Hameed Albahhar.

Emirates posted a message on its Facebook page saying it was only involved with three social media channels. "When we launch competitions or new social media channels, you will be the first to know via our Facebook, G+ or YouTube channels and on emirates.com," it said.

nhanif@thenational.ae