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Is it possible to buy round-trip tickets to Jamaica where the return ticket is counterfeit?

My daughter-in-law says she's now stranded there. Is this possible?

closed as unclear what you're asking by mkennedy, Dmitry Grigoryev, gmauch, Dirty-flow, MJeffryes Dec 13 '18 at 14:40

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    Do you know for a fact that she is actually there? – njzk2 Dec 10 '18 at 4:47
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    How long have you known your daughter in law? Do you think it might be possible she is scamming you? – Dhara Dec 10 '18 at 10:01
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    If for some reason you are convinced it is legit (which is probably isn't, but on the off change it is), don't send her money to buy a ticket, just go online and buy her a ticket. – noslenkwah Dec 10 '18 at 14:47
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    Did your daughter-in-law actually say it, or was it communicated to you in messaging of some kind, apparently using one of your daughter's emails or social media accounts??? Because this is a very common "confidence game" or "con game", done by people who have perhaps only hacked her social media account. – Harper Dec 10 '18 at 18:16
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    Hello @Judy. You've asked a question and have received not only a couple of answers, but a couple of requests for clarification as well. Could you please address those? – SQB Dec 11 '18 at 11:26
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Anything is possible, of course, but it is overwhelmingly, vastly, immensely more likely that this is a scam, and that the source of this email or message is not actually your daughter-in-law, but instead someone else trying to get you to send them money.

In this day of easy Facetime and other video connections, you'll want to have an actual chat with your daughter-in-law to make sure it's her and she's really in need. This SE thread and this ABC News story discuss the issue further.

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    Or it could be the daughter in law just wanting to get an extended vacation of course :-) – jcaron Dec 9 '18 at 23:27
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    Note that there are no paper tickets anymore. All tickets are e-tickets nowadays, and the booking can usually be easily checked online using the booking reference and last name (at least on the airline’s website). If the outbound leg was legit, so will the return. There could be cases of overbooking, but the airline will definitely not let a passenger in this situation “stranded”. – jcaron Dec 9 '18 at 23:30
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    It could be her daughter in law scamming her too. – cHiEf Immigration vIoLaTer Dec 9 '18 at 23:37
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    @Sean There are no paper tickets for ICAO members since June 2008. All tickets are now e-tickets. A printed ticket is just a printout of the e-ticket, but the real ticket is the electronic version: you can’t board with a paper ticket that isn’t is the system, while you previously could. – jcaron Dec 10 '18 at 9:07
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    @jcaron That is incorrect. You linked to an IATA page not ICAO. However, the important point is that not all airlines are IATA members and there is no obligation to join. Paper tickets were not and still are not phased out globally. IATA only handles ticketing and settlement between IATA members. Non-IATA airlines have other options by working with billing and settlement plans. In the US, paper tickets were available through our BSP, ARC, until June 2018. – user71659 Dec 10 '18 at 20:03
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I do not think this is commonly possible, because Jamaica seems to require proof of onward travel. This means that the immigration in Jamaica will check that arriving visitors have a valid ticket for somewhere else within their visa window (a return ticket or somewhere else outside of Jamaica). Because airlines generally lose money for arriving with passengers who fail immigration checks, they also commonly check before they will even let you onto the plane to get to Jamaica in the first place. Since most of these checks are done electronically, they are very hard to fool. Also generally if you did somehow arrive in Jamaica and then fail immigration, what would happen would be that you would be returned by the next plane back to your original airport.

I can think of some extremely uncommon scenarios, for example if you have a legitimate ticket but your airline suddenly goes out of business (Primera Air), or if you deliberately return your return ticket for a refund; and of course you could be temporarily stranded for weather delays or plane maintenance or anything along those lines.

Conclusion: Unless you already knew that your relative planned to be in Jamaica at this time and have significant conversation with her to verify her identity, this is most likely a scam. (My grandparents almost fell for a scam like this, and fortunately held on for long enough to get in contact with my cousin and verify that he never left home and definitely was not stranded in a foreign country! These scammers are very sophisticated, used details from social media, and even convincingly acted on the phone.)

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    My wife's grandmother very nearly fell for a scam like this too - when she answered the phone the guy said "Grandma?" and she replied with the name of her only grandson. And of course then he had her. Right up until she decided to call her daughter, the grandson's mother. Who replied, "... but he's sitting right here." – GalacticCowboy Dec 10 '18 at 19:43
  • Yes, proof of onward/return travel is a common restriction in many countries. Actually, from the title of this question (before I clicked on it) I had assumed the question was coming from a person asking if it is practical to get around this restriction by faking the return ticket! (A better alternative in that case is to buy a fully refundable return ticket.) – Matt Dec 11 '18 at 2:36
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    Can you deliberately get yourself deported to get a flight home? – Acccumulation Dec 11 '18 at 21:37
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    @Acccumulation "maybe". But (speculating a bit) you would probably also face charges in Jamaica before you go, and they would put a black mark on your passport which would probably make it very difficult for you to travel after that. – user3067860 Dec 11 '18 at 21:53
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It is possible, assuming you have a very loose definition of "round trip", for example:

  1. You bought the ticket to Jamaica from a reputable airline.
  2. Once you landed there, you bought another ticket from some less than reputable source.

Your second ticket could be pre-sold or "fake", but these days of electronic everything, it seems highly unlikely.

There are lots of other scenarios that may lead to someone being left at the airport or otherwise delayed:

  1. Flight is overbooked and the person is bumped for a later flight. In case the airline bumps a passenger, they are obligated to compensate you (the exact kind of compensation varies wildly).

  2. The flight is cancelled due to technical issues, weather, etc. In most cases the airline will reschedule you as well usually for free.

  3. Immigration / customs issues may lead to detention and delay.

  4. You got stuck in traffic or simply missed the deadline to check-in.

There is very little chance of a genuine "fake ticket" scenario. As David mentions in his answer shown above, this is highly likely to be a scam to get you to send money - especially if it is through an anonymous source like Western Union.

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    Depending on where you're from and what kind of passport you're holding, you can't enter Jamaicy with a one-way ticket: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/87188/… – Peter Dec 10 '18 at 17:13
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    @Peter those requirements are very often not checked; I think it's probably quite possible in many cases to enter Jamaica with a one-way ticket. – ajd Dec 10 '18 at 19:30
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Anything is possible. It's however highly unlikely, certainly if she bought the ticket through an airline or a reputable travel agency.

Most likely then, it's a scam and the email is not coming from your daughter in law but from someone else entirely. Which should be easy enough to check by comparing the email addresses of the sender, reply-to address, and any known email addresses of your daughter in law. She should also have other means of contacting you, like telephone, to verify whether the message was indeed sent by her.

The text of the message is also a clue, does it mention actual correct names and addresses? If not, it's a dead giveaway that it's a scam. If it does, are they correct? If they are, it can still be a scam especially if your and her name are relatively common.

So contact her through other means, verify that it really is coming from her (99% chance it isn't btw, especially if you didn't know before getting this message that she's in Jamaica, most people wouldn't go abroad without telling their family after all. And if they get in trouble while abroad would call their direct family first rather than their in-laws).

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    If the scammer knows the daughter-in-law's email address, it would be trivial to forge it as the sender and reply-to addresses. So this check doesn't mean much. It's also entirely possible that the scammer is someone who has gained access to the daughter-in-law's email account, and so sending an email to that address wouldn't necessarily ensure that you were talking to the real person. – Nate Eldredge Dec 10 '18 at 5:21
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    @NateEldredge scammer always needs something to get in touch with you... And the headers should contain the actual chain of servers the message went through, back to the actual ISP. – jwenting Dec 10 '18 at 6:05
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    @NateEldredge Sure. But if somebody is trying to scam your mum and they send her an email forged so it looks like it comed from you, she's obviously going to reply to it, and you're going to reply to it and say "But mum, I'm fine." So the email has to come from the wrong address (or, at least, have Reply-To: the wrong address). – David Richerby Dec 10 '18 at 10:56
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    @DavidRicherby except the scammer might own the DIL's email account. The DIL may never see the emails, and responses still go out. Hence the requirement you get a difficult to forge external communication channel, like facetime or a phone call. – Yakk Dec 10 '18 at 14:16
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    Agreed, teaching people to treat From addresses as any sort of proof of authenticity is irresponsible at best. – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 11 '18 at 10:49
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I've had a round trip ticket issued by an airline (charter) when all I bought was a one way ticket.

I was puzzled, and I asked - I was told that they automatically issued a return trip to avoid issues at immigration (proof of return ticket or onward travel).

I had not asked for it, I didn't even need it as I had residency at my destination, but for some reason they did it automatically.

I'm not sure how they would handle it, or if it was legal. I suppose, but I don't know for sure, that they would routinely cancel the return leg before its date.

While not strictly counterfeit, or not strictly fake, it indeed was a return flight that I didn't book and that I didn't pay for, and that the airline would never allow me to take anyway.

Whether or not this applies to your situation is hard to tell, but it's not very likely, as the traveler would be well aware of such an arrangement.

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