April 19, 2010

Facebook Gift Card Scam, 28 Days Later

Last month, we investigated how an iTunes gift card scam operates on Facebook and concluded that the scam can easily be perpetuated with other gift card brands. Sadly, this type of scam has spread like a fast moving viral outbreak in less than a month. Based on our unscientific polling of Google search results for “facebook gift card scam”, there were 283,000 results for March compared to 665,000 results for April. This is a two fold increase and more are people becoming aware of the scam.

IKEA gift card scam on Facebook

IKEA and Whole Foods gift cards are the latest popular brands to be used in this scam. On top of the number of scams increasing, the scams are getting more sophisticated in deceiving people into thinking that it is a legitimate gift card give away.

For example, the IKEA gift card scam utilizes a more sophisticated method than the one we investigated last month. The scam utilizes a nicely refined marketing-grade image instead of just text description. A nice twist on the IKEA scam, is the “only available for one day” statement in the title. This produces a false sense of urgency and legitimacy due to being a limited time offer. Lastly, the PC World article provides more screen shots of the scam and even the destination website is more polished

Facebook mentioned that they are working to “automated system to detect this type of suspicious content and behavior” and to prevent them from going viral. A quick search today on Facebook for “free gift card” returned only one such group. So either the automated system in place or Facebook across the board got rid of these “free gift card” groups/scams. Nevertheless, Facebook users need to be vigilant for these type of scams. While most of these gift cards scam are geared towards affiliate marketing and generating traffic for a specific website, someone with a more malicious intent can use similar techniques to trick users into downloading viruses and malwares that could compromise their computer.

Facebook Takes Steps to Deal with Gift Card Scams [PC World]
IKEA Gift Card Scam Takes in Nearly 40,000 Facebook Users [PC World]
Whole Foods working to curb Facebook-based scam [CNET.com]

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Comment now » | Posted by Alex | Filed under: Scams

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