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Retailer warns of scam gift voucher

There's also a Harvey Norman version...

There's also a Harvey Norman version...

Fake Woolworths, Coles and Harvey Norman gift vouchers are circulating on Facebook in what the retailers warn is a scam designed to collect personal information.

The $400 or $500 vouchers have spread quickly because of what appears to be endorsement from Facebook friends. Complicating matters is the fact the retailers often have real gift voucher competitions running on their official pages.

"Please be aware there are some possible email, survey, website and Facebook scams currently circulating using the Woolworths name and logo," a Woolworths spokesman said on Tuesday.

The Woolworths gift voucher scam page.

The Woolworths gift voucher scam page.

"These 'phishing' scams illegally imitate well-known brands to try to collect customers' personal information."

The scams direct people to a website, for instance Woolworthsfree.net or harveynorman.org, offering free gift vouchers to those who follow three "simple steps".

The site has a counter that appears to show the vouchers rapidly running out in real time, "thank you" comments from what appear to be real Facebook users and a section claiming more than 6 million people have liked the page so far.

Software architect Troy Hunt, who uncovers online scams on his blog, wrote that the "sense of urgency", apparent popularity and air of authenticity attracts unsuspecting victims. He said he had analysed the code line by line and all of this was fake.

He said he believed the scammer was located in Albania and this meant it was difficult for authorities to tackle the scam.

"People in Australia being scammed by a guy in Albania using a server hosted in Germany. Who do the cops speak to?" Mr Hunt wrote. "My experience talking with the authorities about the call centre scammers shows that things like this just get filed away in the 'too hard' basket."

The fact victims are asked to share the scam with friends to claim the "prize" means it can spread quickly through social networks.

Woolworths first warned its customers about the fake vouchers months ago but has recently put up another warning on its Facebook page as customers keep being duped and many blame the retailer.

"Not happy. Since entering this competition my inbox has been spammed daily with offers from all sorts of companies despite ticking the box saying I didn't want to be contacted," one victim wrote on Friday.

"I fell for it because they used your name, but don't know how to report it. It seemed legit because I have entered real Woolworths competitions before. Still I am wiser now."

Woolworths said it would never ask customers for their personal or banking details in unsolicited communications. It said all of its official competitions were run from its own Facebook page and were also posted on the promotions and competitions page of woolworths.com.au.

Coles also issued a warning on its Facebook page this month notifying customers of the scam.

73 comments

  • Complete this sentence: "If it SEEMS too good to be true, then..."

    Commenter
    Alistair
    Date and time
    November 20, 2012, 12:00PM
    • ...it must be an AMAZING DEAL!!!

      Commenter
      frank
      Date and time
      November 20, 2012, 12:07PM
    • Alistair

      I agree completely but hey! we are talking about Fakebook here

      Commenter
      Godfrey De Montfort
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      November 20, 2012, 12:13PM
    • Go for it!

      Commenter
      TechHead
      Location
      in your base
      Date and time
      November 20, 2012, 12:15PM
    • ...It MUST be my lucky day!!!

      Commenter
      NickR
      Date and time
      November 20, 2012, 12:20PM
    • +1. I was about to say the same thing, Alistair. When will people stop being so gullible?

      Commenter
      I'm With The Band
      Location
      Backstage
      Date and time
      November 20, 2012, 12:20PM
    • @I'm With The Band - By inference, does that mean you are not really with the band? :-O

      Commenter
      Bardman
      Date and time
      November 20, 2012, 1:10PM
    • .... because as a Gen Yer its all about me and I am 'super' smart so I wont get stinged (sic).

      Commenter
      Billy
      Location
      Scam em all
      Date and time
      November 20, 2012, 1:55PM
    • Not all of these kind of things are fake, which is what makes it so hard to tell. Companies are using social media to create brand "advocates", who they give products in return for good publicity. I've been given more than $2000 worth of electronics, food, and cosmetics in return for sharing positive experiences. Sadly, not everyone is this lucky.

      Commenter
      Lisa Maree
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      November 20, 2012, 2:01PM
    • @Billy HAH! Gen Y being fooled by this, not likely. We tend to be fairly computer literate. I think you'll find it's mostly older people who type with one finger that are falling for this.

      Seriously though, why is it that in the comments section of every single article you find people slinging insults at Gen Y, no matter how tenuous or, in this case, non-existant the connection to the article is? Does it make you feel intelligent to boast that you're smarter than those with half your life experience?

      Commenter
      late1
      Date and time
      November 20, 2012, 3:47PM

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