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Security & privacy

AirPods sweepstakes scam: These fake texts are so bad Amazon is suing

Winning a prize is always a good feeling, but red flags should go off if you don’t remember entering the sweepstake. Especially if the purported prize is a pair of expensive Apple AirPods, and you were notified through a random text message.

Unfortunately, many in the U.S. have been receiving these kinds of messages, claiming that they won a prize in Amazon’s sweepstakes. AirPods would be a welcome gift, but the messages are completely fake and almost certainly part of a scam. Tap or click here for Apple AirPods tricks you’ll wish you knew sooner.

The scam has gone so far that it has even grabbed the attention of Amazon. The company is now suing the people sending the texts.

Here’s the backstory

These scam texts have rather vague wording. It will congratulate you on winning in the “Amazon pods raffle.” The text is accompanied by a link that you need to click on to redeem your prize. Doing so will take you to a page that strikingly seems legitimate.

Complete with an Amazon logo and color scheme, the webpage instructs you to complete a short survey to be eligible for your prize. Naturally, you only have a limited time to do so. But here is the scam: there is nothing to win, and the site will try to trick you into buying unrelated products.

Amazon doesn’t know who is behind the fake surveys and unsolicited text messages but has filed a lawsuit nonetheless. Called a Jon Doe lawsuit, Amazon seeks to unmask who’s behind the scam through a subpoena.

“Bad actors in these schemes profit by creating fraudulent text message campaigns that drive traffic to advertisers and websites. These fake text messages are intentionally designed to trick unsuspecting consumers to click on a link by using Amazon’s name and offering recipients rewards or other gifts,” Amazon said in a press release.

What can you do about it?

Fake text messages and scam websites have become huge over the last few months. According to the Better Business Bureau, almost 800 complaints have been filed over entities claiming to be Amazon.

If you receive such a message, block the sending number and delete the message immediately. Don’t reply or click any link within. The webpage might seem harmless, but it could also harbor malware or track your personal information. The link in the text will also send you to websites to buy cheap products, which has nothing to do with Amazon.

Not only do you run the risk of having your data stolen, but you are helping the scammers make more money. The links are usually affiliate redirects, so they profit from every person who clicks on them.

“Amazon has already filed five lawsuits against fraudulent affiliate marketing schemes, won multiple injunctions in court to stop the illegal activities, and entered settlements with seven parties in which they agreed to stop their campaigns and pay in excess of $1.5 million in damages” Amazon explained.

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