In mid-July 2015, Facebook users began sharing links that promised a free $60 coupon for the Kroger grocery chain in celebration of the company’s 131st anniversary, available to all users who completed a short series of steps. However, those links were just another iteration of the “Company Anniversary Free Product” scam, in which scammers
establishi fake Facebook accounts mimicking those of well-known vendors of consumer products.
The primary form of free product fraud is the “sweepstakes scam,” which is intended to lure victims into completing numerous surveys, disclosing a good deal of personal information, and then agreeing to sign up for costly, difficult-to-cancel “Reward Offers” hidden in the fine print. The scammers spread links via e-mail and Facebook that purport to offer free product to those who follow those links.
These web pages (which are not operated or sponsored by the companies they reference) typically ask the unwary to click what appear to be Facebook “share” buttons and post comments to the scammer’s site (which is really a ruse to dupe users into spreading the scam by sharing it with all of their Facebook friends). Those who follow such instructions are then led into a set of pages prompting them to input a fair amount of personal information (including name, age, address, and phone numbers), complete a lengthy series of surveys, and finally sign up (and commit to paying) for multiple “Reward Offers” (e.g., Netflix subscriptions, credit report monitoring services, prepaid credit cards).
Kroger has already warned their customers not to fall for the “free” coupon offer:
In the end, consumers who fall for such scams get nothing but fleeced.
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