Spammers claim Facebook giveaway of free iPads and iPhones

Posted Jan 9, 2012 by Leigh Goessl
Is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg really giving away free Apple products? According to an email circulating around the Internet, he is.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Via Facebook livestream
Sophos Security reported today that a scam is circulating around the Internet in the form of an email that says Facebook is offering a free iPads and iPhones.
The email, posted by by Sophos, opens with an introduction from Mark Zuckerberg himself offering a "one-day" only event where Apple and Facebook have partnered up to "advertise" the latest Apple products.
Here's an excerpt of the posted email:
"We [Facebook] have recently partnered up with Apple company for a one-time promotional event today, we are giving away free Apple iPhones and iPads to randomly selected individuals who have been fortunate to be picked as one of our newest winners for today. We randomly selected users from our systems database and you have matched with our latest drawing."
The email then asks the recipient to click a link and check out the newly created website made for the purpose of this special giveaway promotion. Of course, once the user arrives, the directions request additional information too.
In this case, the instructions reportedly ask the recipient to click on the link, fill out a short survey and enter an email address.
Once this is completed, it appears the hopeful winner is then led to another web page that states he/she is a "potential winner", not the assured ("guarantee that we have reserved one for you") winner the email had initially claimed. In order to win, yet another question needs to be answered, which was not specified, but Sophos' graphic illustrated the question "Is is possible to video call with the iPhone 4S?" and a yes/no button is presented.
The scam comes in at this point, because this isn't a prize win, the details in the small print indicate the wishful frontrunner for a new iPhone or iPad has signed up for a mobile phone subscription service that will cost them.
Sophos said, "The motivation of the spam message claiming to come from Mark Zuckerberg, is to drive traffic to online competitions and surveys like this - the spammers will earn affiliate commission every time they trick someone into signing up."
In this respect, it is a twist on a classic survey scam that frequently pops up on Facebook. Video, celebrity and news scams have historically led to surveys that are designed to make the scammers money and the user gets nothing but a headache in having to clean up after falling for the scam. In this case though, the scam is coming through private email, not the network itself. However, not a bad idea idea to keep in mind a variant of the scam may surface in a news stream on Facebook.
Consider the fact if Zuckerberg and company were truly partnering with Apple, this would be big news with press releases and lots of official publicity, not a secretive private email with little fanfare.
In a recent Better Business Bureau announcement of the top 10 scams of 2011, Facebook hit the list a couple of times, but a notable scam was the one where Mark Zuckerberg announced the recipient of an email was the winner of a $1 million giveaway.
A good rule of thumb to go by is if any offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.