The rumor that Southwest Airlines was holding a "69th anniversary" or "86th anniversary" giveaway for free tickets on a Facebook page named "Southwest Air Fans" was a scam. The page had no affiliation with the company. This was nothing more than the latest free airline tickets giveaway scam on social media, which we have covered numerous times before. Further, Southwest Airlines is years short of reaching its 69th or 86th anniversary.
The scam appeared to first begin spreading around the weekend of May 21 and 22, 2022. The posts had the words, "We've decided to celebrate our 69th anniversary by giving 2 round-trip tickets to everyone who types (Done) by 5pm Sunday." Another version had "86th anniversary" in the post.
Millions of people looked to have fallen for the "Southwest Air Fans" scam. On the official Facebook page for Southwest Airlines, the company put out a "scam alert" statement about the fake "69th anniversary" or "86th anniversary" free tickets giveaway.
The company included a screenshot that showed one of the posts created by the scammers on the "Southwest Air Fans" page. The scammers' post received more than 1.4 million comments in the course of what looked to be around 24 hours:
The statement from Southwest Airlines read as follows:
Many of you may have seen this post from a fake account claiming to offer two roundtrip tickets. While we like great flight deals as much as the next airline, this one is unfortunately not real, and wasn't posted by Southwest Airlines.
Remember to check for that little blue checkmark that verifies whether the account behind the post is genuine! And, for the record, we're celebrating our 51st anniversary this year, not our 69th. ?
The way that the "Southwest Air Fans" scam worked was that anyone who replied to the scammers' posts with the word "Done," as instructed, would be directed to visit a Facebook profile with instructions to visit a website:
CONGRATULATIONS for those of you who have received comments from me have been selected as winners
Step 1 = Like and Share
Step 2 = Coments "DONE"
Step 3 = Register here (link removed)
receive my prize. And the Gift will be sent after you successfully register (this is authentic and official) God bless you
Once entrants "registered" on the scammers' website in "step 3," the "Southwest Air Fans" offer was changed from free tickets for Southwest Airlines' "69th anniversary" or "86th anniversary" to the promise of $750 being sent to users via Cash App. It's unclear what happened after this step. However, if the past is any guide, such scams often involve seemingly endless surveys. We recommend steering clear of these kinds of scams and discourage clicking any links in the scammers' posts. We also strongly advise against providing any personal information to survey scam websites.