New mailers promise 2 round trip tickets -- with a catch

A new travel offer has thousands of people dreaming of free plane tickets and luxury vacations, but don't pack your bags just yet.

The mailings are loaded with buzz words designed for quick response. "Final Notice." "2 round-trip airline tickets." "This is your last chance." "Flights fill quickly."

The attached fake check is for $1,350. And the clincher for many recipients is the rather familiar name in the upper left corner: "American."

"It appears to be an airline voucher for American Airlines," said Katrina Lane.

But American Airlines has nothing to do with the free ticket offers. In fact, no airline is directly involved.

As one of the thousands of people who received the mailer, I called the number provided to get more information. As I suspected, in order to get the round-trip tickets, you have to attend a 90-minute presentation for a membership-based travel club. You must bring two pieces of ID, you must meet minimum income requirements and you must bring a credit card.

"I think that it's very misleading," Lane said.

Dave Quinlan from Better Business Bureau says he can't speak to this specific promotion, but similar travel pitches generate thousands of calls and complaints every year.

"People need to do their homework. If you didn't sign up for something and you get a call or you get a letter in the mail suddenly just out of the blue, Hey! You've been selected, Congratulations. Well come on, You've got to use some common sense there," Quinlan stressed.

A big concern with this promotion is the lack of information about who's behind it. The fake check shows the name Travel Union in Scottsdale Arizona. But it also shows American TAD, which the marketer on the phone told me stands for Travel Award Division. She said TAD was hired by a Bellevue travel agency to handle the promotion. When I asked for the name of the Bellevue company, she gave me a web address for yet a third company- I called the number on that website and got the same recording greeting I got when I called the number for the award notification. I could find no physical address for the Bellevue operation.

A recent Better Business Bureau investigation in Texas found consumers paying thousands of dollars for travel memberships they claim did not produce the savings they were promised. The BBB in Arizona- where the mailers originated, says it has tried repeatedly to contact the companies to discuss their promotion claims, but had no success in getting a response.

The Arizona BBB is actually advising people who get ambiguous, misleading or questionable ticket vouchers to simply shred them- and avoid giving out any personal information to anyone associated with the mailings.

More information on travel club promotions is available online.