20 Online Scams to Watch Out For

Unfortunately, that text is not from a company that wants to send you free money. It’s just another phishing scheme — we checked.

Published March 7, 2024

U.S. Postal Service letter carrier Dennis Stecz walks back to his truck after delivering a package Jan. 28, 2009 in San Lorenzo, California. The U.S. Postal Service asked the U.S. Congress for permission to discontinue mail delivery one additional day a week in an effort to make up financial losses. The Postal Service is forecasting a loss of $9 billion in 2009. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Image courtesy of Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

You've seen it with mobile ordering at restaurants and the rise of online banking — but now the ancient, time-honored tradition of scamming people out of their money has become a lucrative internet business. Well, it's been a lucrative internet business since about 1995, but it's still going strong.

The good news is that many of these schemes are easy to spot if you know what to look for. Things like a fake website name or strange people emailing you are a dead giveaway, but some scams are harder to recognize than others. 

Each of these scams is designed to steal your personal information to use your account or even steal money straight from your bank account, so let's talk about the most common ones so you can stay protected.

The Fake Amazon Raffle

A couple of years ago this was all the rage. Many people received a text message saying that they had won Apple AirPods or a gift card, etc., in a "raffle." A good rule of thumb? Don’t accept prizes for raffles you don’t remember entering.

The Cash App Scam

A massive social media scam promised $750 to the Cash App account of anyone who filled out a brief survey or became a "product tester," but these surveys were just smokescreens to get your personal info. Unfortunately, this is a common tactic because it’s so enticing that victims often don’t look closely enough to realize it's a scam.

Fake Postal Service Communications

There are many versions of this, but they usually follow the same format. The message says that you've won a USPS raffle (What would they be raffling? Stamps?) or that your package has been delayed.

It then provides you with a link to click. Even if the link looks correct, it’s always a good idea to search the official site instead of clicking one that might lead to phishing.

Counterfeit Stamps

Speaking of the USPS, another bizarre kind of fraud in 2021 involved people creating fake Forever Stamps and selling them online for 20%-50% cheaper than the post office. You have to be careful about where you get your stamps these days, apparently. It's best to just swing by the post office to be 100% sure. 

The eBay Order Email Scam

Since at least 2017 or 2018, fake order confirmations for various items have been showing up in inboxes. One of the most prominent is the "Axel Panel Platform Bed," but it can be any item. 

The email asks the recipient to respond with "ship my order" or "this is not my item." The links then open an email app that is designed to trick you into emailing your personal info directly to the scammer.

Facebook Login Scam

Beware of scam emails masquerading as messages from Facebook, warning that "someone tried to log in to your account" followed by an 8-digit ID number. These fraudulent messages aim to phish for personal information, potentially leading to identity theft and other risks. They might look convincing, often mentioning login attempts from new devices like "iPhone 11 Pro" or "iPhone 12 Pro Max," but a giveaway is the sender's email address.

Legitimate Facebook communications come from addresses ending in,, or Always verify the sender's email, especially if it prompts action on your part. Remember, clicking on links in such emails is strongly discouraged. Stay informed and protect your digital safety.

Norton Renewal Email Scam

Since 2021, a crafty email scam has been hoodwinking folks with bogus claims of Norton subscription renewals. These phishing emails, featuring a mix of actual and made-up Norton products, aim to fish for personal info. Calling the provided scam number connects you to a scammer, ready to ask for an "invoice number." 

The plot thickens with a refund scam, falsely promising to return money for these phantom subscriptions. In reality, it's a ploy to snag financial details. Norton advises trashing those deceitful emails and visiting for genuine advice on avoiding these scams. Trust only emails from their official addresses to stay safe.

McDonald's "You Have Been Selected" Scam

In February 2022, a scam email made the rounds, pretending to offer an "exclusive reward" from McDonald's, luring recipients with the promise of a $100 gift card. The catch? A survey on a sketchy website promising the reward. The email itself was a grammatical mess, coming from a dubious address not affiliated with McDonald's. 

This led to a Russian survey site with a fake deadline for rushing users. This scam, sporting a familiar mailing address linked to past scams, is a classic case of phishing. Remember, genuine rewards from McDonald's won't come from odd emails. Better to delete these too-good-to-be-true offers.

CVS Receipt Scam

In February 2022, an email scam surfaced, falsely promising an "exclusive reward offer" from CVS Pharmacy after completing a short survey. The sender's address and linked websites had no affiliation with CVS, using misleading tactics to appear legitimate, including an address previously linked to other scams. 

The scam redirected through multiple sites, eventually offering a dubious $90 "promo reward." CVS Pharmacy has officially stated they don't solicit customer information in such a manner and advised against responding to or following links in such deceptive emails. It's best to delete these fraudulent offers outright.

Capital One Gold Card Scam

In February 2022, a deceptive email scam was identified, promising a "$500 Capital One Gold Card" for completing a survey and/or subscription. Originating from a dubious address and falsely claiming affiliation with Capital One and Visa Inc., the email was misleading. 

The investigation revealed links to a site that showed suspicious similarities with Consumer Digital Survey, a company linked to other scam emails. The dubious "recent winners" section and inconsistent winner details raised red flags. Ultimately, this promotion was exposed as a survey scam and was not endorsed by Capital One.

Venmo Email Scam

In February 2022, a cheeky scam email surfaced, promising a $1,000 Venmo gift card with the use of playful bell emojis in the subject. Despite its festive appearance, this offer was far from legitimate. Coming from a questionable email address and claiming a false affiliation with Venmo, it baited recipients with the chance to win big after a purchase or subscription.

However, neither the mysterious sending domain nor the linked website had any real connection to Venmo or a genuine gift card giveaway. While the scam's ultimate goal remained unclear due to a lack of links, such schemes often lead to phishing or worse. When in doubt, delete is the safest route!

Costco and T-Mobile "Exclusive Reward" Scam

In February 2022, scam emails claiming to be from Costco and T-Mobile popped up, teasing recipients with "exclusive rewards" and urging them to respond. With subject lines like "We have been trying to reach you—Please respond!" these emails, sporting a mix of Costco's name and T-Mobile's pink flair, promised enticing gifts.

However, clicking through led to a wild goose chase, first to a UK website, then to a Russian page promising a $100 Costco gift card for survey completion. Spoiler alert: it was all a scam. So, if your inbox gets this too-good-to-be-true offer, just remember: when in doubt, throw it out!

Lowe's Gift Card Scam

In early 2022, scam emails surfaced promising a $100 Lowe's gift card to recipients willing to complete a survey. These emails, featuring the Lowe's logo and enticing subject lines like "You have been randomly selected!" and "Your email has been selected!" contained links that led to a dubious Russian website. 

The use of a Florida mailing address, which appeared unrelated to Lowe's, mirrored tactics seen in other scams. Ultimately, these offers were fraudulent, exploiting the allure of a free gift card to deceive individuals.

UPS "Reward" Scam

In February 2022, a crafty scam email masquerading as an official message from UPS promised an "exclusive reward" for completing a quick marketing survey. Sporting a UPS logo and a so-called confirmation receipt, it dangled the carrot of an enticing offer to lure recipients into action.

But alas, the journey through the provided link, a countdown clock ticking away to add urgency, only led to a Russian website filled with endless surveys and empty promises. Spoiler alert: no rewards here, just a convoluted path of fake offers. So, if an email promises big rewards for little effort, remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

LinkedIn "People Are Looking At Your Profile" Scam

On Feb. 2, 2022, a scam email surfaced, masquerading as an official LinkedIn notification with the subject line, "People are looking at your profile." This seemingly flattering message claimed that users had attracted attention from companies like Avanade. However, the giveaway was the sender's email address, which was a clear indicator of its Russian origin and no real affiliation with LinkedIn. 

Gmail flagged this communication as dangerous, a phishing attempt in disguise. While LinkedIn does send notifications about profile views, this specific email was a bait to lure unsuspecting recipients into potential data theft. It's a reminder to scrutinize the source before engaging with such emails. Genuine opportunities seldom hail from questionable sources.

Ellen DeGeneres Facebook Scam

Since December 2021, a cheeky scam has been making rounds on Facebook, featuring Ellen DeGeneres and dangling the carrot of $750 or $1,000 Cash App prizes. Claims of 100 to 150 winners promised big, but spelling Ellen's name wrong was a giveaway. Despite Facebook's vast workforce and revenue, this scam lingered, puzzling many. The pattern? Post flashy offers, then vanish.

A recent scam encouraged likes, shares, and comments for a chance to win, a tactic seen before in fake vacation giveaways. Finding these scams is alarmingly easy, a task Facebook should be well-equipped to handle. 

Stimulus for Homeowners Scam

Heads up, everyone! Those Facebook ads flashing "$3,600 stimulus for homeowners" with pics of President Biden, VP Harris, and Congress members? Total fibs. Despite what they claim, there's no such government-backed windfall waiting to pad your bank account. 

Clicking those ads leads you down a rabbit hole only to end up at lender pages – not the promised land of government checks. And yes, these ads have been splurging cash to catch your eye, with some pages dropping around $200,000 since late October 2021. So, let's stay sharp and keep our clicks to ourselves!

Walmart Self-Checkout Scam

Since 2020, a TikTok trend has had people buzzing about a secret four-digit code above Walmart's entrance, supposedly unlocking discounts at self-checkout. Spoiler alert: it's a total myth. Despite viral videos claiming you can enter this code for savings, in reality, there's no place to input such a code at checkout. 

Some TikTokers even made trips to Walmart to debunk this myth, finding no mysterious code or discount option. So, next time you're at Walmart, feel free to look up—but don't expect any secret savings to drop down!

Shark Tank Weight Loss Scam

Beware the email claiming a miraculous weight loss product, Keto Burn, featured on "Shark Tank" and endorsed by Fox News—it's all smoke and mirrors. Despite what these emails suggest, neither "Shark Tank" nor Fox News has any ties to Keto Burn or the fantastical "50lbs in 61 days" claim. 

The emails lead you on a wild goose chase through various websites, only to land on fabricated articles and fake endorsements. Even photos and media logos are misused to sell the story. Don't let the illusion of celebrity endorsement fool you—this is a scam through and through. Always double-check before you click!

Coca-Cola Welfare Fund Scam

Beware the "Coca-Cola Welfare Fund" lottery scam! Promising big bucks for completing a survey, this scam has been making rounds on Facebook since early June 2021, tempting users with thousands in pesos or riel. But clicking that link? A straight road to virus land, data theft, and unwanted location tracking.

Even the folks at Coca-Cola have chimed in, urging everyone to steer clear of these fake promotions. Remember, if it looks too fizzy to be true, it probably is. Stay safe and keep your clicks to yourself!

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