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Best Buy Gift Card Scam

Claim:   Best Buy is distributing free $1,000 gift cards to users who click an online link.

FALSE

Examples:  

[Collected via e-mail, April 2012]

Your entry last month has Won!! Goto [URL elided] and enter your Winning Code: 3333 to claim your free $1000 BestBuy GiftCard!
 

[Collected via e-mail, October 2012]

Your entry last month has Won! Go to [URL elided] and enter your winning code 5555 to claim your FREE $1000 Best Buy Gift card within 24 hours.

 

Origins:   In October 2012, a scam purporting to offer free $1,000 Best Buy gift cards to those who accessed a proffered link then entered a "winning code" spread by cell phone text message. It was a reprise of a March 2012 scam that invoked the name of the same retailer to lure the unwary.

Those who attempted to claim the enticing freebie were then led to a web page (which was not operated or sponsored by electronics retailer Best Buy) that asked them to certify they were U.S. residents over the age of 18 and had agreed to the privacy policy and terms and conditions of the site they'd been sent to, the latter being:
This Gift Redemption Program is an independent rewards program for consumers and is not affiliated with, sponsored by or endorsed by any of the listed products or retailers. Trademarks, service marks, logos, and/or domain names (including, without limitation, the individual names of products and retailers) are the property of their respective owners.

THE FOLLOWING IS A SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS. SEE TERMS & CONDITIONS FOR COMPLETE DETAILS. Members are being accepted subject to the following Program Requirements: 1) Must be a legal US resident; 2) must be at least 18 years old or older; 3) must have a valid email and shipping address; 4) Eligible members can receive the incentive gift package by completing two reward offers from each of the Silver and Gold reward offer page options and nine reward offers from the Platinum reward offer page options and refer 3 friends to do the same. Various types of reward offers are available. Completion of reward offers most often requires a purchase or filing a credit application and being accepted for a financial product such as a credit card or consumer loan.
Those still in hot pursuit of the promised $1,000 gift cards were then asked to provide their names, mailing addresses, e-mail addresses, cell phone numbers, and dates of birth, or were taken directly to web pages that required them to select a number of "free" offers.

As always, it was just a con meant to trick the credulous into divulging their personal information and signing up for expensive services. The Better Business Bureau provides this advice on avoiding being victimized by such scams:
  • If you receive a questionable or unsolicited text message, check the URL or phone number for free on the Better Business Bureau website.
  • Most financial institutions, utility, or other business will not communicate with you via text message. If you do not recognize the website or phone number being sent to you, don't visit or call it.
  • Don't e-mail or text personal and financial information.
  • Review your credit card and bank statements to make sure there are no unauthorized charges.
Other recent scams of similar construction include:
  • $50 or $100 Starbucks gift cards [October 2011]
  • $25 Tim Hortons gift cards [October 2011]
  • Apple iPods, iPhones, or MacBooks in memory of Steve Jobs [October 2011]
  • $1,000 Costco gift cards [December 2011]
  • $1,000 Walmart gift cards [March 2012]
  • Pair of JetBlue air travel tickets [April 2012]
Last updated:   5 October 2012

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Sources:

    Kharif, Olga.   "Spam Texts Hit 4.5 Billion, Raising Consumer Ire."
    San Francisco Chronicle.   30 April 2012.