Scams & Deception

The Free Cruise Telemarketing Scam

The Free Cruise Telemarketing Scam
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So you received a call saying you’ve won a free cruise, or that you’ll earn a free cruise by answering some survey questions? Sounds too good to be true, right? We’ve already written extensively about specific phone numbers that have been calling with such offers over the past six months, but we thought it was time to discuss the scam in general, and provide a master list of numbers we’ve tracked so far about the scam.

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“Free” Cruise

You may be asking, if they give away a free cruise, maybe it’s worth answering the survey, right? The problem is, it isn’t really free, and in some cases there’s not really a prize at all. Yep – they get your survey answers, and you get a runaround that doesn’t always include a cruise. In other cases, I’ve heard of a cruise existing, but with hidden fees thrown in that doesn’t quite make it free, or even cheap. Or in another incarnation, no matter what dates you select, they aren’t available, but you’ll be offered an “upgrade” rate to get in when you want.

See where we’re going here?

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The bottom line is that these people have been hammering the phone system, placing untold thousands of calls for such “free” cruises. That fact alone smells rotten, and you will be better served ignoring or hanging up on any such offer.  Why are they trying so hard to give something away?

Here’s a great article from 2010, showing that the scam really hasn’t changed much since then. Further searching will reveal that this scam has been along much longer, for many years in fact. Not once have I come across someone who went through the process and didn’t feel scammed in some way.

As quoted in an earlier Waffles article about this scam…

A recent trend in telemarketing comes into play here, that of being compensated for filling out a survey. In the most common version coming from this number, people are asked to answer ten questions and will be rewarded with tickets to a cruise, perhaps to the Bahamas or a similar location. Sometimes they will make it sound like you’ve actually “won” a cruise and simply have to answer ten questions in order to collect your “winnings.”

There are lots of numbers jumping on this bandwagon, that blew up phones around the country back in September. Ripoff Report claims that one of the similar numbers, 541-530-7708, belongs to United Public Opinion Group, found at surveycruise.com. I wasn’t able to verify this, however, but the website does show a business eerily similar to the one calling people from these numbers.

Many people have claimed that calls from them begin with a horn blowing and/or a message saying, “This is your captain speaking…” It’s hard to imagine different companies would have such a distinctive opening, so one must deduce that all of these cruise calls originate from the same company.

It’s unknown how many different firms are participating in this offer, but it’s most likely only a small handful of places, and perhaps even just one. The phone numbers they use are most likely spoofed, as they keep changing from week to week, and customers are unable to call them back.

March 2013 Update

We’re hearing about a large volume of calls regarding this scam in Canada.

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