Lost luggage scam targets Facebook users in Australia and New Zealand


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Multiple social media posts have falsely claimed that airports in Australia and New Zealand have been selling lost luggage for $3 — but representatives from both airports told AFP the posts are scams. The posts include doctored images of baggage at US and Canadian airports in December 2022, when tens of thousands of flights were cancelled during the busy holiday period. AFP has debunked similar scams about airports in the Philippines and South Africa.

One Facebook post published on January 7 falsely claimed that social media users could purchase lost luggage that had been left at Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport.

Attached to the post is a picture of hundreds of bags and suitcases next to a baggage carousel and a sign that says, “Lost baggage $3”.

The post reads: “Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport sale lost luggage that has been in store for more than 6 months. According to the regulations it has to be disposed, but we have decided to sell it for just $3 each.”

It encourages users to click on an order button to “get all the details and participate”.

But the link — which has been blocked by Facebook for not following its community standards — takes users to a page about a toddler play class, and is unrelated to purchasing unclaimed or lost baggage.

A screenshot of the false Facebook post, captured on January 10

Similar posts were shared elsewhere on Facebook here and here, while posts claiming Auckland Airport in New Zealand was selling lost luggage were shared here and here.

Spokespersons for both airports, however, told AFP the posts were scams.

A Sydney Airport spokesperson said: “We would urge everyone to stay vigilant to social media scams and only trust information from Sydney Airport’s official verified accounts.”

An Auckland airport spokesperson urged users to look for the blue verification tick to identify its authentic accounts.

“Auckland Airport does not sell lost luggage and any page claiming to be selling lost luggage from Auckland Airport is a scam,” they said.

Reverse image searches on Google, TinEye and Bing found the images in these misleading posts originated from photos taken at airports in the United States and Canada in December 2022, when a combination of technological problems and a fierce winter storm led to the cancellation of tens of thousands of flights.

Denver airport

One of the images used in the false posts corresponds with an old photo taken at Denver International Airport.

It appears to have been manipulated from a photo published on Reddit on December 27, 2022, which stated it showed the airport’s baggage claim area for Southwest Airlines (archived link).

Southwest was fined a record $140 million by the US Department of Transport over operational failures during the December 2022 “holiday meltdown” that stranded more than two million passengers.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the altered image used in the false post (left) and the Reddit photo (right):

Screenshot comparison of the altered image used in the false post (left) and the Reddit photo (right)

The photo is similar to another taken at the same airport which was published by the online news site Denver Westword here on December 28, 2022 (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image used in the false post (left) and the Denver Westword photo (right) with corresponding features highlighted in yellow by AFP:

Screenshot comparison of the image used in the false post (left) and the Denver Westword photo (right)

Chicago airport

A second image purportedly of lost luggage for sale in Sydney was in fact taken at the Chicago Midway International Airport.

The original photo was cropped from a photo published by NBC here on December 26, 2022 (archived link).

The photo was published alongside others showing how the winter weather was causing travel chaos across the United States. It is captioned: “A sea of baggage at Chicago’s Midway Airport.”

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image in the false post (left) and the photo from NBC (right):

Screenshot comparison of the image in the false post (left) and the photo from NBC (right)

Vancouver airport

A third image purportedly of luggage at Sydney Airport was actually taken at Vancouver International Airport.

It was originally published as part of an Associated Press report about a snowstorm that halted flights at the airport, published on December 20, 2022 (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image used in the false post (left) and the AP photo (right):

Screenshot comparison of the image used in the false post (left) and the AP photo (right)

AFP has previously debunked lost luggage scams in the Philippines and South Africa.



This article was originally published by a factcheck.afp.com . Read the Original article here. .