Post being shared on Facebook claims that you can click to get 10 free cartons of Marlboro brand cigarettes. The post claims that the giveaway is to celebrate Marlboro’s 110th anniversary.
The message is a scam designed to trick you into spamming your friends and divulging your personal information via dodgy survey websites. It has no connection to Marlboro and no cigarettes are being given away.
According to this post, which is currently circulating rapidly via Facebook, you can click to get 10 free cartons of Marlboro brand cigarettes. Supposedly, Marlboro is giving away the cigarettes as a means of celebrating its 110th anniversary. The post features an image depicting a coupon for the supposed giveaway along with the Marlboro logo.
However, the post is fraudulent. No cigarettes are being given away and the post is in no way associated with the Marlboro brand or with Philip Morris, the company that makes the brand. In fact, the post is a typical Facebook scam designed to trick you into spamming your friends with the same bogus giveaway and providing your personal information via suspect survey websites.
If you click the post in the hope of getting your free smokes, you will be taken to a website that instructs you to complete an – utterly pointless – survey about your smoking habits. Regardless of how you answer these survey questions, you will always be taken to the same fraudulent prize claim page. The page includes a series of – totally fake – comments supposedly added by users who have already received their free cigarettes. The comments are designed to make the false claims seem more legitimate.
Once on the claim page, you will be told that you must share the page on Facebook and then send a direct link to the page to 15 Facebook friends before getting your gift. By stipulating these two steps, the scammers ensure that their fraudulent material reaches an ever widening audience on Facebook.
But, even after you share and send as instructed and click the gift link, you will still not get to claim your free smokes. Instead, you will be told that you must ‘verify’ your claim by participating in one or more surveys. A popup window will include a list of links to several surveys you can participate in.
The links open various websites that promise the chance to win further prizes in exchange for filling in brief surveys and providing your name, home address, email address, and phone numbers. But, fine print on the page will note that, by participating, you are giving the site permission to share your information with site sponsors and third party marketing firms. Thus, soon after participating, you will begin receiving unwanted and annoying phone calls, text messages, emails, and surface letters promoting a range of products and services.
In some cases, by providing your mobile phone number, you are in fact subscribing to a very expensive SMS ‘club’ that will charge you several dollars for every text message they send you.
Meanwhile, the scammers who created the fake Marlboro giveaway will earn commissions each time somebody provides his or her information on one of the survey sites. And, of course, no matter how many surveys or offers you participate in, you will never get to claim your free cigarettes, which never existed in the first place.
Scams like this one are very common on Facebook. Be wary of any post or Page that claims that you can win valuable products or prizes just by sharing posts or links and participating in online surveys.
For the record, the Marlboro brand is not 110 years old as claimed in the scam post. Philip Morris launched the brand in 1924.
Last updated: June 29, 2016
First published: June 29, 2016
By Brett M. Christensen