Outline Emails and Facebook posts claim that Starbucks is giving away free gift cards and instruct users to click a link to claim their prize.
The message is not a legitimate offer and is not from Starbucks. It is a scam designed to trick users into first spamming their Facebook friends and then participating in bogus surveys that try to trick people into submitting personal information or signing up for expensive "services". Those who participate will never receive the promised gift card.
ATTN: Facebook, Starbucks Coffee is handing out absolutely cards! Hurry up, Don't hold off any time. Here is webpage - [Link removed] There only 322 left.
ATTN: Facebook, World Famous Starbucks is gifting away new cards. Rush fast, Do not waste a minute. Here is link - [Link removed] Starbucks Promo 2011 Theres just 464 left!!
For a limited time you can receive a FREE gift card to purchase Starbucks coffee and related beverages! Don't wait, this is a one time free gift offered only in November!
Spam messages being posted on Facebook and distributed via email promise the recipient a free gift card for popular coffee company, Starbucks. The messages instruct recipients to click a link in order to claim their free card. The messages advise people to make their claim fast because there are only a limited number of free cards left to give away.
However, the messages are not a legitimate promotion and they are not from Starbucks. The messages all lead to a survey scam designed to trick users into spamming their Facebook friends and participating in bogus "surveys" or "offers".
Clicking the link in the spam messages opens the webpage depicted in the screenshot below. The page claims that users must click the Facebook "Share" button as well as include the comment, "I love Starbucks coffee!" before proceeding:
By clicking the "Share" button, the user is in fact posting the same spam message on his or her own Facebook Wall. The spam will thus appear on the News Feed of the user's Facebook friends, along with the "I love Starbucks coffee!"comment.
After clicking the "Share" button and commenting, the user will be taken to another webpage that promises further free gifts or services, but only if the user completes two of the "offers" listed on the page. Selecting offers from the list takes the user to yet more third party websites where they are required to provide personal and contact information, register on the site, download or activate a free trial, or fill in various surveys. In some cases, they may be asked to supply their mobile phone number, ostensibly in order to get the results of a survey or go in the draw to win a prize such as an Apple iPad. However, the "fine print" on these survey pages states that, by providing their mobile phone number, users are actually subscribing to an absurdly expensive and ongoing SMS "service" charged at several dollars per text message.
The user will soon find him or herself caught in a confusing tangle of open webpages, all offering supposedly free gifts or services in exchange for participating. Often, trying to exit the pages will call up various "alerts" that try to convince the person to stay on the page rather than navigate away.
In any case, regardless of how many surveys or offers are completed, the user will never receive the promised Starbucks gift card. The offer of the gift card is simply the bait used to entice people into clicking the spam link in the first place. The people who set up these scams earn a commission via a dubious affiliate marketing system each and every time someone completes an "offer" or "survey".
Facebook users should be very wary of any Facebook messages or emails that promise free gifts or services. Such survey scams are very common. If you encounter such a message, do not click any included links. Any "offer" that insists that users share the promotional message, install a Facebook application, or participate in a survey before receiving the promised gift should be treated with great suspicion.