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‘Free Apple Product’ Text Message Survey Scam

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Mobile phone text message claims that the recipient has won a free Apple product and should follow a link and enter a code to claim the prize.

Brief Analysis

The claim that the recipient has won a prize is untrue. The message is an attempt to trick users into divulging their personal information and subscribing to expensive SMS services by participating in suspect online surveys.

Example

Apple Product Text Message Scam 1

 

Detailed Analysis

This unsolicited text message was delivered to my iPhone.

According to the message, my phone number has made me an “Apple Winner”. And to claim my free Apple Product, all I need do is follow the link in the text message and enter a specified code number.

But, the claims in the message are lies and I have, in fact, won nothing at all. Following the link opens a prize verification page as shown in the following screenshot:

Apple Product Text Message Scam 2

After entering my code number I was then taken to a further “prize” page and asked to complete a brief survey. After completing the survey, I was told that I was now eligible to win an iPad so long as I entered my mobile phone number as shown in this screenshot:

Apple Product Text Message Scam 3

But, fine print on the page informs users that by entering their phone number they are actually subscribing to an ongoing SMS subscription service that will be billed at $6 per text. Those who enter their number and continue will be taken to various other survey pages and asked to supply even more contact information, ostensibly to go in the running for further prizes. But, regardless of how many surveys that users participate in, they will never receive the promised prizes. Such survey scam messages are commonly distributed via Facebook and email as well as via text message.

The people who set up these scams earn a commission via a dubious affiliate marketing system each and every time someone completes an “offer” or “survey”. While affiliate marketing is a legitimate method of conducting business online, some participants are more than willing to use reprehensible and underhand tactics to increase profits, including the offer of non-existent gifts or prizes via survey scam messages. The offer of a free prize or gift is the bait used to entice people into following the spam link. Victims who fall for the ruse and participate may be faced with large phone bills for unwanted mobile phone services along with unwanted promotional emails, phone calls and junk mail.

This text message version users a web address that includes the word “apple” in an attempt to make the offer seem like it comes directly from Apple. In fact, the message has no connection with the company whatsoever. Furthermore, the claim that the winner must enter a special code contained in the text message to claim the prize is just another ruse to make the offer seem more legitimate. In fact, any string of numbers or letters will be accepted by the code “verification” form.

If you receive one of these survey scams, do not follow any links that it contains. Don’t be fooled. You have NOT won a prize and entering any of the online surveys that the link leads to will NOT allow you to receive a free Apple product or anything else of value.

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer