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Security & privacy

PSA: If you win ‘free’ electronics online, watch for this sign it’s a scam

Sony’s PlayStation 5 is one of the most in-demand video game consoles, with stocks regularly selling out nationwide. Some have waited months to get their hands on one, while others are willing to spend large sums of money. Is there a fortune sitting in your garage? Tap or click here for tech worth big money.

But as we’ve seen often, criminals and scammers exploit the situation for their own gain when something is hard to find. A scam making the rounds on YouTube right now could drain your pockets.

Read on to learn how to spot a free electronics scam and what you can do to stay safe.

Don’t fall for this electronics giveaway scam

The global video games industry generates billions annually, driven primarily by Microsoft’s Xbox One console and rival Sony’s PlayStation 5. Even though the PS5 launched three years ago, stock levels haven’t normalized yet.

That’s put many people in a desperate situation, willing to do almost anything to acquire the console. Unfortunately, scammers know that desperate people can act irrationally and target them with the fake promise of a device.

Colorado resident Sean O’Brien feels “stupid” and “mad” for falling for one of these scams. While watching a YouTube video, he noticed a comment underneath that claimed he could get a free PS5 if he paid a small fee.

After contacting the commenter, he paid some money to secure the console. However, the scammer kept asking for more. O’Brien sent a total of $300. 

Speaking to FOX31, O’Brien explains, “by the fifth time, I said, you know what? You guys should say there are all these fees upfront, and I said I’m not paying any more money.” It should be no surprise that the scammers then refused to send him the PS5 or give him a refund.

The retail price for a PlayStation 5 is $400 for the digital edition and $500 for the standard edition.

What you can do about it

Scammers are constantly branching out to other mediums in search of victims. Some of the most common methods are phishing emails and malicious text messages, but platforms like Facebook and YouTube are gaining popularity.

It seems illogical to expect a random commenter on a video to send you a PS5 for a small fee, yet many people fall for these scams. Here are tips to avoid falling victim.

  • Be cautious when people claim they can get you hard-to-find electronics for a small “fee.” This is almost certainly a scam, and you’ll never see the gadget.
  • Never give out personal information or banking details to anybody you don’t know. Scammers often harvest data for use in other scams or identity fraud.
  • Don’t click links in emails or text messages claiming you can get free electronics. These links are likely malicious and send you to a fake website that captures your information or asks for banking details.
  • If you’ve fallen victim to a giveaway scam, report it to the FTC at

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