In the summer of 2021, several readers asked Snopes to investigate a suspicious-looking promotion for a free $3,000 gift card for the Publix supermarket chain. Readers reported receiving direct messages from their Facebook friends that contained links for a “Publix 90th anniversary celebration,” and invited them to fill out a survey in order to win the gift card.
Snopes can confirm that the “Publix gift card” promotion is no more than a scam, and bears a close resemblance to a previous fraudulent promotion that we addressed earlier in the summer of 2021.
Internet users who clicked through to the promotion were greeted with a distinctly amateur-looking web page that contained a photograph of people lining up outside a Publix supermarket, with the headline “Publix 90th Anniversary Celebration!” and the following text:
Publix 90th Anniversary Celebration!
Through the questionnaire, you will have a chance to get A gift card worth $3000.
Under the photograph sat a multiple-choice survey with four questions, the first of which asked: “Do you know Publix? Yes / No.” The second question was “How old are you?” The third question was the grammatically problematic “How do you think of Publix?” with the answer options being “Very good”; “Unbelievable”; “OK”; and “Not so good.” The fourth and final question was, “Are you male or female?”
After answering those questions, the user is greeted by a message box that reads “Congratulation! [sic] Your answer has been saved successfully!”
The participant then supposedly gets the opportunity to actually win something, despite already having been congratulated several times by this point. “You have 3 attempts,” the scam explains, to click on a box that contains a gift. After clicking the “wrong” box a couple of times, the user ultimately “wins” a prize.
The icon that appears on the screen shows a fake Publix gift card with “$500” stamped on it, but the text in the message box describes “a gift card worth $3,000.” Nobody ever wins either, of course, but it’s a bizarre inconsistency nonetheless.
In order to supposedly claim this prize (whatever its exact monetary value), the victor must first share a link to the scam with 20 of their Facebook friends.
So nobody ever actually wins, but the scam spreads exponentially through Facebook, hence the barrage of Facebook direct messages received by Snopes readers in July 2021.
These features — the spelling and grammar mistakes, the “anniversary” promotion, the wording of the survey questions, and the “share with your friends” requirement — are all nearly identical to those we observed in a similar scam in June 2021. On that occasion, it was a fake “184th anniversary” giveaway of a Hermès bag, and the doomed participant was told to share the scam with their WhatsApp contacts, rather than their Facebook friends.
Just as the fake Hermès promotion was nowhere to be found on that company’s own official website and social media channels, so the bogus gift card giveaway did not appear on the website or social media profiles of Publix.