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Craigslist iPad Giveaway Survey Scam

Email purporting to be from Craig Newmark, creator of Craigslist, claims that the recipient has been randomly selected as the winner of an Apple iPad.

Brief Analysis
The message is not from Craig Newmark or Craigslist. The message is a scam that attempts to trick recipients into providing personal information and subscribing to expensive SMS services via a bogus survey website. The recipient will never receive the promised iPad.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.

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Last updated: 7th March 2011
First published: 7th March 2011
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer

Subject: [Title of Craigslist Post]

This is Craig Newmark, creator of Craigslist. We recently partnered with Apple Inc. to give away iPads to randomly selected individuals who recently posted on Craigslist. Each iPad winner is picked at random through one of their recent Craigslist posts. Your post titled "Subject: [Title of Craigslist Post]" was randomly picked as today's winner, congrats on winning a free iPad!!!

In order to make it easy for winners to get their iPads we created a special page with a few simple steps, please click HERE and make sure to complete all steps to ensure fast delivery of your iPad. After completing the simple steps required, your iPad will be shipped in a couple of days and you will get a shipping confirmation email with a tracking number.

Once again, congrats on being one of our lucky iPad winners. All of our past winners who got their iPad have fallen in love with it, and many write us back and thank us. Your iPad retails for $800-$875. Of course if you have no use for it you can always sell it on eBay or give it away.

We understand that there are many online scams these days and I want to personally assure you that is NOT a scam. In fact if you have any concerns or questions you are always welcome to contact me directly by replying to this email. Before contacting me I recommend that you visit the iPad winners claim page HERE and complete a few simple steps so that an iPad is set aside for you just in case we run out.

Thank you for using Craigslist,

Craig Newmark
Creator of Craigslist

Detailed Analysis
This message purports to be from Craig Newmark, the founder of online classified advertisement community Craigslist. The message claims that a post recently submitted on Craigslist has been randomly selected as the winner of a free Apple iPad. The message instructs the "lucky" winner to click a link and "complete a few simple steps" in order to claim the free iPad.

However, the email is certainly not from Craig Newmark or Craigslist. Nor has the recipient won an iPad as claimed in the message. The promise of a free iPad is simply the bait used to entice recipients into clicking one of the links in the email. Those who follow the links will be taken to a spammy "survey" website that invites the user to participate in an "Are you dumber than average" IQ test. Once the "IQ test" is completed, the participant is instructed to enter a mobile phone number and click "Continue" in order to to view the results of the test. The user is then instructed to SMS the word "Yes" to a specified number. However, information displayed at the bottom of the test pages explained that by sending the keyword "Yes", the participant is actually signing up for an "Amazing Facts" SMS service that will be charged at the rate of $6.60 per text message along with a joining fee of $6.60.

And, even after subscribing to this absurdly overpriced SMS service, the user may be asked to complete further surveys or sign up for other enticing offers by providing personal and contact details all in the vain hope of receiving the promised iPad. Often, by participating in such offers, the user is actually giving permission for third party "partners" to send him or her advertising material via email, phone or surface mail. Sadly, no matter how many surveys or offers that users complete, they will never receive the promised iPad.

Such spam campaigns are often set up by unscrupulous affiliate marketers who receive a commission each time a person participates in one of these offers or surveys. 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.

Users of social network Facebook are also regularly exposed to very similar spam campaigns, usually via rogue Facebook applications or bogus Facebook groups.

In the interests of accuracy, it should be noted that SMS subscription surveys like the one described above, although ethically dubious, may not actually be illegal because they do clearly display the costs and conditions of participating. However, sending messages that falsely claim to be from a well known person or organization and claiming that a recipient has won a prize that does not actually exist is a fraudulent tactic that has been used and reused by scammers over many years.

Be cautious of any message that claims that you have won a prize but requires you to fill in surveys, participate in various offers, or subscribe to SMS services before your prize will be sent to you. Legitimate promotions or prize draws are very unlikely to be conducted in such a manner. Note also that any message that claims that you have been randomly selected as a prize winner in a promotion or lottery that you have never even entered is likely to be a scam.

Bookmark and Share References
Scammers Exploit 'Facebook Closing Down' Hoaxes via Rogue Apps
Beware of Dubious Facebook 'Free Offer' Groups
Email Lottery Scams - International Lottery Scam Information

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Last updated: 7th March 2011
First published: 7th March 2011
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer