Free Costco Gift Card for all Facebook users? Scam spreads quickly

Filed Under: Facebook, Social networks, Spam

Costco gift cardScams are sadly a fact of life if you're a Facebook user, and scammers are constantly dreaming up new lures designed to trick users into clicking and sharing their revenue-generating links.

One of the schemes we frequently see being used on Facebook is the "free gift card/voucher" scam, where users are tricked into believing that a company is giving away gift cards to Facebook users.

Here's the latest, spreading rapidly on Facebook right now:

CostCo Facebook scam

Get a Costco Gift Card for FREE! (limited time only)
[LINK]
Costco is currently giving away $100.00 gift cards to all Facebook users!

Let's take a second to think this through properly.

If you assume the message is true, and that Costco really is prepared to give "all Facebook users" a $100 gift card, and believe that Facebook are correct in saying that they have over 800 million users, that means...

#takes out calculator..

A jaw-dropping maximum of $80,000,000,000 (80 billion US dollars)! That's quite a budget Costco has there for its social media campaign! :)

Of course, the truth is that the message has nothing to do with Costco at all. It's simply a case of scammers trying to trick you into clicking on the link.

If you do click, the very first thing you are asked to do is share the link further with your Facebook friends and like the page - thus helping the scam spread virally.

CostCo Facebook scam

The intention, of course, is not to award you with a $100 gift card - but instead to drive traffic towards an online survey or questionnaire. The scammers earn commission the more people they trick into taking their online survey.

In my case, I was bemused to find myself asked to take a survey asking me if I wear MAC makeup?

CostCo Facebook scam

Err.. no, I don't.

Whether it's fake iTunes gift certificates or gift cards to save you money at ASDA, Tesco, Argos or Starbucks - Facebook users can't seem to resist falling for the bogus offers, which only serve to earn cash for the bad guys.

If you got hit by this scam, make sure you have removed the entries from your news feed (to stop them being shared amongst your friends) and check your profile does not have any unwanted "Likes" under your "Likes and interests".

If you use Facebook and want to get an early warning about the latest attacks, you should join the Sophos Facebook page where we have a thriving community of over 150,000 people.

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14 Responses to Free Costco Gift Card for all Facebook users? Scam spreads quickly

  1. Miguel C · 1045 days ago

    Not to mention in order to spend money at Costco you have to be a member.

  2. Robert Wurzburg · 1044 days ago

    This scam is now being propogated using email on the Internet, for a $500 Costco gift
    card. It showed up on Yahoo in my spam folder tonight!

  3. Eree · 1032 days ago

    Oh, now it's being advertised as $1000.00!

    • D E · 1028 days ago

      Which means even MORE people are posting it. Oh, boy. The more obvious it is that it's a scam, the more often I see it posted.

  4. Mike · 1028 days ago

    Agreed it is a scam, but, "Let's take a second to think this through properly."?

    No coupon or offer from any company would ever expect that aal of their offers would ever get cashed in. I don't think you can use the 80 billion as evidence that this has to be a scam. Costco doesn't exist in all countries or even cities where all of these Facebook users are using.

    Think about coupons that are sent out in the mail. If those companies even expected one percent to be cashed in, those companies would go under.

    • Mike · 789 days ago

      Yes, but when companies plan out their budget, they have to allocate the resources to pay out those funds. If it is offered to everyone, then they have created a legal obligation to pay everybody that claims the coupon or reward. Whether or not that they will have to pay it out is irrelevant, as companies are sure to look at the statistics to see just how many people will redeem coupons. From an accounting standpoint, there is no way that any company would offer up that kind of deal to 300 million people or possibly greater.

      I think if you read the fine print on most coupons, they heavily favor the company. In most cases, the business entices a consumer to purchase something with the hopes to make a profit. Loss leaders are becoming more and more irrelevant with the current state of our economy and most loss leaders are small products that even online retailers can still make a profit on the back end with shipping costs.

      Do you think that Black Friday is a day in which all companies just give stuff away at rock bottom prices? No, they instead create loss leaders to entice shoppers to come in and spend money. Most of the stuff they are giving away are last year's model electronics and other things that they need off their shelf. Because those items are either irrelevant technology or taking up space on the storefront, there is a value to the company using it as a loss leader to get people in the door.

  5. RSK · 1028 days ago

    The big tip-off for me right away was that it was a Blogspot address. What reputable company would set up a Blogspot blog for a promotion?

  6. Dee · 894 days ago

    A reputable company that would set up a false company would be a company that steel from the goverment and the poor and should be put in jail.

  7. Brian · 790 days ago

    Here is a company (Sophos) asking that you "like" their page so they can warn you against spam that is trying to get you to "like" their page. Anyone actually think about that for a moment?

    Plus, there is absolutely nothing on the Sophos Facebook page warning people about this scam. So while they posted it on their website, they failed to notify the 190,000 people that have "liked" their Facebook page in part to get news about spam like this event.

    So Sophos - you suck. You are actually part of the problem and don't actually warn people through your Facebook page like you claim.

    • Graham Cluley · 789 days ago

      Ummm... We warned our Facebook community about it in December 2011.

      • meamour · 412 days ago

        That's been a long time ago Graham Cluley.
        This is the time you have to RE-WARN FB users.

  8. Pete · 760 days ago

    Please explain why Costco and MAC (and all the other "reputable" companies whose names are involved), as well as Facebook, don't have an interest in putting a stop to this. It can't be that hard to police these ads. Or is that MAC survey for real, and MAC doesn't really care how people are being tricked into taking it. In which case, shouldn't we be aiming much of the criticism at MAC?

  9. guest · 698 days ago

    so i accidentally and foolishly responded and included my vital contact information including my home address and cell phone number. what should i do to mitigate the damage done?

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.