Thousands of people have been duped by several social media scams offering free flights with Emirates and Etihad Airways.

Messages offering free economy tickets to 20,000 people who follow a page claiming to be the airline’s official membership on photo-sharing website Instagram have attracted thousands of “followers” and caused a stir on other social media websites.

Each of the hoax posts includes the airlines’ logos and some include photos seeminglytaken from the companies’ websites.

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One post on Instagram says: “Hello All Our first 20,000follower who share our page and tag&mention #EmiratesPromotions will receive ticket in our economy class to Dubai!”.

Another one reads: “Hello all. Our first 20,000 Followers who share our page and mention #etihadpromotions will receive , two economy class tickets to Dubai.”

As many as 10,000 people are reported to have “followed” the pages but many appear to have “unfollowed” after the airlines used other social media outlets to warn customers it was not involved in the “promotion” and did not have an Instagram account.

“Etihad Airways has no association with any accounts or promotions (such as #EtihadPromotion) competition currently running on Instagram as we don’t have an official Instagram account yet. Thanks for checking” Etihad wrote in a message in response to an inquiry from Aizz Irfan, who copied the message onto micro-blogging website Twitter to warn others.

Hundreds of people also took to Twitter to alert potential victims.

“Interesting to see #EtihadPromotion & #EmiratesPromotion fake hashtags spreading on Instagram. Good move from both airlines in clarifying.” @Bader al Hinai‏ tweeted.

Twitter user @kathey9 was relieved not to have fallen for the hoax, writing “I did a lot of stupid things in my life but thanks god I didn't believe #EmiratesPromotion thing.”