Unethical scam artists and marketing agencies are exploiting people’s fear of the coronavirus by attempting to scam them into thinking they can receive free items including free gift cards and coupons. In reality, the primary purpose of the scam is to phish information by persuading victims to visit questionable websites where they are asked for their personal information including full names, email addresses, home addresses, telephone numbers, and more.
One of the latest scams claims that Kroger is giving away $50 coupons for their anniversary. Targets of the $50 Kroger coupon scam are typically advised by the scammers via social media posts to visit a website to obtain instructions to receive a free $50 coupon. The website will contain a short series of questions such as “Have you ever shopped at Kroger” and when the series of questions are all answered the website will provide the target with a series of instructions that includes sharing the webpage on Facebook (or other social media), typing “Thanks!” in comments, providing their personal information, and more.
To be very clear, this is a scam and no one is going to receive a free $50 coupon to use at Kroger by completing online surveys. As previously stated, the primary purpose of this scam is to phish personal information by tricking people into thinking they can receive a free coupon. Information phished from victims may be used in various crimes including identity theft, fraud, and more. It can also be shared with third-parties and used in other scams and for unknown marketing purposes.
The reason why victims are instructed to type something like “Thanks” in comments is so that the scammers can gather a list of people to target for later on. Scammers often contact the people who commented on posts at a later time and/or add them to a list of people to target with other scams.
Other concerns about this scam
Advanced fee fraud is a big concern with this type of online scam. In advanced fee fraud, scammers contact their victims in order to siphon money from them. For example, scammers may contact their targets via social media to tell them that they won; However, things turn dangerous when the scammers ask their victims to send an advanced payment such as a shipping-type-of fee to receive a prize. When all is said and done, the scammer runs off with the victim’s money and the victim only receives the monetary debt.
In the past, scammers often directed targets to websites capable of compromising social media accounts that visitors were logged into. If a visitor logged into a Facebook account and visited the scammer’s website while logged in an attack would take place in order to obtain the victim’s social media login information or other.
How to tell if something’s a scam
Through and through, the $50 Kroger coupon giveaway scam is a mirror of thousands of other scams. It completely mimics the personality and functionality of thousands of scams before it. It’s easy to identify for people familiar with the common red flags concerning this category of scams.
Here are a few things to look out for:
- The company’s verified social media account did not share it
- The company’s website does not have information about it
- It’s identical to other scams
- The web address looks suspicious
- There are numerous surveys
- The questions on surveys are simple
- It says I can receive other prizes
These are just a few red flags to look out for when questioning a scam like this. It’s also notable to keep in mind that Kroger and other companies only make announcements from their verified accounts and websites. A legitimate company would never direct a person to an odd website with a domain name consisting of random numbers and letters.
Unfortunately, many people fall for these types of fake giveaway scams and unknowing victims share posts about free rewards on social media, their friends gain interest in the free rewards, and the scams continue to grow and spread further.
If you fell for a scam we advise you to take these steps to make sure your social media account is secure:
- Delete social media posts associated with the scam
- Change the password to your social media account
- Log out of other locations
- Change reused passwords (don’t use the same password for multiple accounts)
- Use unique passwords consisting of capital letters, numbers, and punctuation marks
- Alert your friends about the scam (message them, post an update, and/or share this post)
In addition, victims of advanced fee fraud are advised to contact their banks and credit card providers for more information.