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Issue 140 - October 2012 (1st Edition) - Page 9

Gmail 'Free Apple iPad Reward' Survey Scam

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Email purporting to be from Gmail, claims that the recipient has been randomly chosen as a winner of an Apple iPad and should visit a website and participate in various "promotional giveaways" in order to claim his or her prize.

Brief Analysis
The email is not from Gmail and the claim that the recipient has won an Apple iPad is a lie. The message is an attempt by unscrupulous affiliate marketers to trick people into participating in various bogus online offers and surveys. No matter how many offers or surveys the recipient participates in, he or she will never receive the promise iPad.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.

Last updated: September 19, 2012
First published: September 19, 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer

From: GMAlL
Subject: September 18th Notice

Gmail Reward Survey Scam

Detailed Analysis
According to this email, which claims to be from Gmail and includes the Gmail logo and corporate address footer, the recipient has been selected as a winner of an Apple iPad 3. The message claims that Gmail has teamed up with Apple to offer the free iPads as part of a one time promotional event. Supposedly, winners were chosen based on the random selection of Gmail addresses. The "winner" is instructed to enter a web address into his or her browser in order to claim the free iPad. The message advises that the winner will be required to participate in some promotional giveaways on the site as part of the claim process.

However, the email is not from Gmail, and the recipient has not won an iPad as claimed. In fact, the message is a scam designed to trick respondents into participating in various online offers and surveys. Those who go to the "reward" website as instructed will be asked to participate in an online survey, ostensibly to go into the draw to win further prizes such as Apple iPhones. But, to complete the entry, users must provide their mobile phone number. By providing their number, users are actually subscribing to an ongoing, and absurdly expensive, SMS "service" that is billed at several dollars per message. And, if users do provide their phone number and subscribe, they will next be taken to further suspect survey pages. Some of the pages will ask users to provide personal information including name, address and contact details, ostensibly to allow them to go in the draw for a prize. Others will invite them to download dubious toolbars, games or software.

But, no matter how many surveys users complete, they will never receive the promised iPad. And victims may be faced with large phone bills for unwanted mobile phone services along with large numbers of unwanted promotional emails, phone calls and junk mail as well.

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 scams.

In this version, the scammers have sent the message as an image rather than text, apparently in an attempt to bypass email spam filters. They also trick people into entering the scam web address themselves rather than clicking a link as a means of attempting to avoid security filters. Survey scams like this one are very common. An earlier version of the scam claimed that Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg had partnered with Apple to offer free iPads and iPhones to selected users. And such survey scams are also regularly distributed via Facebook as well as email.

Be wary of any unsolicited message that claims that you have been selected as a winner of a prize but must go to a website and participate in surveys or offers to verify your identity or claim your prize.

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Issue 140 Start Menu

Pages in this issue:
  1. Miley Cyrus 'Sex Tape' Facebook Scam
  2. AT&T 'Account Limit Exceeded' Phishing Scam
  3. Visa - Mastercard 'Security Incident' Phishing Scam
  4. 'Letter from Barack Obama' Advance Fee Scam
  5. 'Blue Tiger' Picture on Facebook
  6. Better Business Bureau 'Complaint Received' Malware Emails
  7. Facebook Survey Scam - Free £100 ASDA Voucher
  8. Windows Email Security Update Phishing Scam
  9. Gmail 'Free Apple iPad Reward' Survey Scam
  10. 'Personal Assistant' Money Laundering Scam