Beware The Ides Of Free Gift Cards On Facebook

Earlier today, I saw a couple of my Facebook friends posting links to websites that purported to be giving away $50 gift cards to Starbucks. Supposedly, this act of corporate generosity was in honor of the company’s 40th anniversary.

But it all seemed phishy, especially since I saw people touting the exact same offer but with different URLs, none of which were to the official Starbucks website.  So, I went to Wikipedia to see if it even is Starbucks’ 40th anniversary. It kind of is. That is, their first coffee shop was opened in 1971. But on March 30, 1971. Presumably, it is unlikely that they would suddenly be celebrating their 40th in October, months after their actual 40th.

And it turns out they’re not. Sophos’ Naked Security blogs reports that the gift card “offer” is indeed a scam:

The Starbucks fraud proclaims to be a give away to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Seattle coffee giant.

It’s a tried and true formula for con-artists to get your to share their scam with your friends, and then lead you to a website asking you to divulge personal information.

These scams begin with asking you for your email address with some standard legal verbiage about being 18 years old and a resident of -insert country here-. They then proceed to lead you to another form asking you to disclose sensitive personal information.

For those who did seek the gift card, Sophos’ Graham Cluley says, “Delete the message from your feed, warn your friends, remove any suspicious ‘Likes’ from your profile, mark it as spam so it might ping up the Facebook security team’s radar.”

An interesting observation on this, which was made on Facebook by a childhood friend who is now an academic studying social media, is that people’s susceptibility to scams such as this may be increased as of late since there is a decent amount of legitimate “too good to be true” deals around these days.

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