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Scam Rumours About The Westfield Gift Card Competition on Facebook

Circulating warnings suggest that a 2009 Westfield Shopping Australia Christmas gift card competition currently running on Facebook is a scam and contains trojans or viruses (Full commentary below).

Competition is legitimate and the rumours are unfounded

Examples:(Submitted, November 2009)
Example 1:
The Westfields Gift Card Application is fake. They are gettin into ur profile info and using it as well as loading trojan viruses into ur computer... facebook are in the process of closing that application down. DO NOT ADD THE WESTFIELD GIFT CARD APPLICATION unless you want your identity stolen and a crashed computer... COPY AND PASTE INTO YOUR STATUS SO EVERYONE KNOWS...

Example 2:
I've heard that the Westfield Gift Card competition on FACEBOOK is a scam. Apparently, adding the westfield app can give hackers access to your computer.

Example 3:
Dont use the Westfield gift card app..its a virus!!!

Various warning messages about a gift card giveaway competition running on social networking website, Facebook, are currently circulating on Facebook itself and via other websites and email. According to these warnings, a 2009 Westfield Shopping Australia Christmas gift card competition currently being offered on Facebook is actually a method of delivering information stealing trojans or computer viruses to Facebook users.


Gift Card
Claims that a Westfield Gift Card Competition App on Facebook contains malware are unfounded
However, these warnings are unfounded. The competition is a legitimate Facebook promotion operated by the Australian branch of giant shopping centre group, Westfield. To go in the draw to win a $10,000 Westfield gift card, users must install the Westfield Gift Card application on their Facebook page. By installing the application, users give permission to have their Facebook status updated with the message "All I want for Christmas is a Westfield Gift Card".

Before installing the application, users must agree to a set of Terms and Conditions governing the competition. The Terms and Conditions document includes Permit Numbers for the promotion obtained from various Australian State entities that control gaming and competitions. These Permit Numbers can be used to verify that the promotion is really registered and legitimate. For example, the NSW Permit number, "LTPS/09/11042" can be entered into the search facility at the NSW Government Licensing Service. Searching on the number confirms that it is indeed attached to the Westfield Gift Card competition. The Terms and Conditions also clearly list the name and address of the promoter along with competition commencement and closure dates, conditions of entry and details about when and where the prize will be drawn.

Thus, the promotion is genuine and correctly registered and there is certainly no evidence to support rumours that the competition application installs viruses or any other type of malware on the user's computer. During research for this article, I installed the application on my own Facebook page and found that it performed exactly as outlined in the Terms and Conditions. Neither my own observations nor my security software gave any indication that malicious software was being installed on my computer during the process. Subsequent scans and a thorough examination of my computer after the application was installed also revealed nothing untoward.

However, while the promotion itself is legitimate, and the malware rumours are unfounded, many Facebook users are unhappy with the way the competition has been operated. The popularity of the promotion has meant that the Westfield status updates have appeared with great regularity all over Facebook and many Facebook users have found this annoying and thus accused Westfield of effectively spamming their social network.

Moreover, initial versions of the application and its Facebook Fan Page apparently did not display prominent links to the promotion's Terms and Conditions and this was seen by some as a deliberate attempt to mislead users. And Sydney based Digital Strategist Tom Kelshaw has pointed out that the promotion may actually contravene Facebook's own Terms and Conditions which forbid forcing users to take actions such as updating their status as a condition of entry to a promotion.

These issues may well have lead to and then continued to fuel the rumours that the application was malicious or bogus.

Even though the Westfield promotion is not overtly malicious as claimed in these warning messages, many users might question Facebook's wisdom in allowing such intrusive promotions to run at all.

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Westfield Gift Card Application
Westfield Gift Card Promotion - Terms and Conditions
NSW Government Licensing Service
Facebook - Westfield Gift Card
Westfield Gift Cards taking over Facebook, breaking rules in the process

Last updated: 27th November 2009
First published: 27th November 2009

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen