Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Beware of free gift or gift card links on facebook

Recently, I've been seeing more and more links on facebook for getting free gifts or free gift cards.
If you click the link, it will take you to a page where it will say the offer expires today and there are remaining gifts to be given out.  In order for you to get the gift, you have to do 2 things:
  • Step 1: You must click the facebook share button.
  • Step 2: Type xxxx (some specific sentence) into the comments below
I, myself, also was scam by this once before.  As I see more and more of similar things appearing in facebook, I became suspicious.  I didn't find anything on web related to the specific URL, so I did a little research myself.

Here is an example.
After clicking the link, it takes you to a page like this:

If you look at the URL, facebook is forwarding the page to "coffeeblends.me".

The WhoIs lookup shows that it's registered using WhoisGuard, which is a service that protects domain owner's information.  WhoisGuard places their information in whois and provides an option to redirect email and regular mail to the customer's real address. 
Also, the domain is created on the same day as the free gift card expiry date.

You can compare this to the Whois of the real Starbucks site.  You can see that it's registered to Starbucks Coffee Company with real contact info.

This tells me that "coffeeblends.me" is 99% a scam.

Here is another example.
This facebook link takes you to "ipad4canada.com".

The domain info for "ipad4canada.com":

This site is also create on the same day as the free gift card expiry date.
Even though the registrant could be real, why would someone in UK be giving out gift cards to Canada?
It's suspicious.

Other suspicious examples that I remembered:
  • Free Tim Horton Gift Cards that forward you to "timhortongiftcards.com".

What to do?
If you are not sure whether the site is legit or not, do a free "WhoIs" search.
DNSQuery.org is one of the sites that offers free WhoIs search:

You can google to find other sites that offer free WhoIs search.

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