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Last updated: August 7, 2012
First published: August 7, 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer
This unsolicited text message was delivered to my iPhone. According to the message, my phone number has made me an "Apple Winner". And to claim my free Apple Product, all I need do is follow the link in the text message and enter a specified code number.
But, the claims in the message are lies and I have, in fact, won nothing at all. Following the link opens a prize verification page as shown in the following screenshot:
After entering my code number I was then taken to a further "prize" page and asked to complete a brief survey. After completing the survey, I was told that I was now eligible to win an iPad so long as I entered my mobile phone number as shown in this screenshot:
But, fine print on the page informs users that by entering their phone number they are actually subscribing to an ongoing SMS subscription service that will be billed at $6 per text. Those who enter their number and continue, will be taken to various other survey pages and asked to supply even more contact information, ostensibly to go in the running for further prizes. But, regardless of how many surveys that users participate in, they will never receive the promised prizes. Such survey scam messages are commonly distributed via Facebook and email as well as via text message.
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". While affiliate marketing is a legitimate method of conducting business online, some participants are more than willing to use reprehensible and underhand tactics to increase profits, including the offer of non-existent gifts or prizes via survey scam messages. The offer of a free prize or gift is the bait used to entice people into following the spam link. Victims who fall for the ruse and participate may be faced with large phone bills for unwanted mobile phone services along with unwanted promotional emails, phone calls and junk mail.
This text message version users a web address that includes the word "apple" in an attempt to make the offer seem like it comes directly from Apple. In fact, the message has no connection with the company whatsoever. Furthermore, the claim that the winner must enter a special code contained in the text message to claim the prize is just another ruse to make the offer seem more legitimate. In fact, any string of numbers or letters will be accepted by the code "verification" form.
If you receive one of these survey scams, do not follow any links that it contains. Don't be fooled. You have NOT won a prize and entering any of the online surveys that the link leads to will NOT allow you to receive a free Apple product or anything else of value.
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