A favourite scammer ruse is to pose as a high profile celebrity who is supposedly giving away cash and prizes to selected fans.
These scammers often use Facebook or email to connect with victims. And, as discussed here, they also use SMS.
Here’s a typical example of such a celebrity give away phone text message:
Dear customer, Welcome sir we are happy to inform you that you are the 2nd runner-up of 17400? Doller by DWYANE JHONSON foundation this will be given you today you can pay only converting charge RS 6500/- Contact:- Removed Check your prize at [URL Removed] Regards:-[URL Removed]
This version claims that a cash prize is being given away by popular US celebrity Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. But, there are many similar variants of the scam that substitute the names of other celebrities around the world. Some may claim that the star is giving away valuable prizes such as cars or holidays rather than cash. Some claim to be giving away both cash and prizes.
But, alas, these messages are not associated with the named celebrity in any way whatsoever. And those who fall for the ruse and follow the links have precisely zero chance of getting the promised cash or prize.
If you do click the link, you will be taken to a fake website that supposedly allows you to claim your prize.
Some versions may attempt to trick you into providing your credit card details and other personal information, ostensibly to cover processing and delivery costs. They will insist that you must pay these fees upfront or risk forfeiting the prize. If you proceed, online criminals can collect the information you provide and use it to commit credit card fraud and identity theft.
Others may insist that you sign up for supposedly free video streaming services that ask for your credit card details, supposedly as a means of verifying your identity. Again, the scammers will fraudulently use the information you provide.
Or, the links may open spammy “survey” or “offer” websites that ask for your name and contact details. The information you provide will be shared with suspect marketing companies who will flood you with unwanted and annoying promotional emails, phone calls, and text messages.
Some may even take you to websites that harbour malware of various kinds.
Don’t be fooled! It’s true that some celebrities are very generous and do give away large amounts of their money to charity, to reward fans, or to help those less fortunate. But it is vastly unlikely that even the most wealthy star would ever randomly give away large amounts of money and valuable prizes to strangers via SMS, email, or social media. Any message in any format that makes such claims should be treated as highly suspicious.