In early February 2016, social media users began sharing various versions of the above link, claiming that the retailer Nordstrom was offering a $200 gift card to Facebook users who "referred three friends" to the promotion.
The embedded links pointed to a URL that was typically some variation on nordstrom.egiftcards.co, and not hosted on the official Nordstrom website. Users who attempted to complete the steps and claim the Nordstrom gift card were directed to well-designed (but still illegitimate) page with the following instructions:
To Celebrate Valentines Day Get a Nordstrom $200 Gift Card
Simply Invite 3 Friends to Get Your Gift Card
After 3 Friends Click Your Link.
Get Your Gift Card Instantly!
The landing page in question didn't resemble other popular Facebook coupon scams. However, it did display a rapidly decreasing number of "available gift cards" suggesting users should comply urgently or miss out:
Coupon and gift card scams appear frequently on Facebook; Kohl's, Costco, Home Depot, Lowe's, Kroger, Best Buy, Macy's, Olive Garden, Publix, Target, Wegmans, and Walmart were among popular retailers impersonated by scammers seeking personal information from social media users.
On 3 February 2016, a Nordstrom representative responded to our inquiry about the circulating gift card scam:
You're correct, this is a fraudulent promotion as it is not affiliated with Nordstrom and we are not sponsoring any giveaways of gift cards. We recommend not clicking the link or entering any personal information. Our team is actively working to make customers aware of the situation and apologize for any confusion.
A July 2014 Better Business Bureau article advised social media users on how to avoid survey and coupon scams:
Don't believe what you see. It's easy to steal the colors, logos and header of an established organization. Scammers can also make links look like they lead to legitimate websites and emails appear to come from a different sender.
When in doubt, do a quick web search. If the survey is a scam, you may find alerts or complaints from other consumers. The organization's real website may have further information.
Watch out for a reward that's too good to be true. If the survey is real, you may be entered in a drawing to win a gift card or receive a small discount off your next purchase. Few businesses can afford to give away $50 gift cards for completing a few questions.