Quick And Easy Survey Phishing Scam

Email claims that money will be credited to the recipient’s account in return for filling out a “quick and easy” online survey

Phishing scam designed to steal account details

Subject:Official NotificationCongratulations!

Dear Customer,

You’ve been selected to take part in our quick and easy 8 questions survey In return we will credit $90.00 to your account – Just for your time!

This survey has been sent only to a few people from our random generator !

Please spare two minutes of your time and take part in our online survey so we can improve our services. Don’t miss this chance to change something.

To access the form please click the link below :

[Link to bogus website removed]

With the information collected we can decide to direct a number of changes to improve and expand our online services.

Note: * If you received this message in your SPAM/BULK folder, that is because of the restrictions implemented by your ISP
* For security reasons, we will record your ip address, the date and time.
* Deliberate wrong imputs are criminally pursued and indicted.

Survey ID : 1255fr566

Detailed Analysis:
According to this email, the recipient can have $90 credited to his or her bank account simply by participating in an “easy 8 questions survey”. The message includes a link to a website where the recipient can supposedly fill out the survey and claim the reward.

However, although the survey web page may look genuine, it is in fact designed to steal personal information including credit card details. Those who click the link will be presented with a web form like the one shown in the screen shot below.

The first portion of the form contains the bogus “survey questions”. The second portion asks the victim to supply name and contact information and credit card details including the PIN attached to the card. The card information is supposedly required in order to credit the participant’s account with the $90 survey fee. In reality, however, the fee is entirely imaginary and all information supplied on the bogus survey form will be collected and used by scammers.

Scammers have used the same paid survey ruse a number of times over the last few years. While the particular incarnation included here purports to be from Walmart, previous versions have targeted a wide range of companies and institutions including McDonald’s, Citibank, Chase Bank and even the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Other details may also vary, including the amount of the supposed survey fee, the number of questions, and the type of bogus survey question included on the web form. In spite of such superficial differences, however, the underlying scam is the same and is, in every case, designed to steal financial information from victims.

The scam emails may include formatting and logos that make them look like valid company messages. However, they do not really originate from the company named in the emails. Links in these scam messages are generally disguised so that they appear to belong to the particular company being targeted. The bogus web forms used in the scam may also be styled to resemble the targeted company’s genuine website.

Internet users should be very cautious of any unsolicited message that promises to pay a fee for filling out a short survey. Companies may certainly conduct customer surveys and may even reward participants by entering them into a prize draw or offering free or discounted products. In some cases, they may even pay customers who participate in in-depth surveys or organized focus groups. However, they are extremely unlikely to pay such a substantial fee for filling out a small and insignificant survey. Nor would any legitimate company resort to sending out unsolicited bulk emails in order to entice consumers to participate.

Phishing scams take many forms and all Internet users would be wise to gain an understanding of how such scams operate.

Last updated: 1st December 2008
First published: 1st December 2008
By Brett M. Christensen
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