Threat Alert: Survey scams are proliferating

If a ‘company’ offers a TV set in return for your opinion, run!

Businesses are always asking for feedback in the form of surveys and many consumers love to give their opinion, especially if there is some kind of reward for doing so.

This week the ConsumerAffairs-Trend Micro Threat Alert identified a steady increase in the Costco Survey Scam, used by scammers impersonating the wholesale warehouse to lure consumers with the promise of a free Samsung QLED 8K UHD smart TV. 

Trend Micro's research team detected 215 logs on July 22. And it’s not the only survey scam targeting consumers.

Apple Survey Scam 

  • Trend Micro's research team identified scammers impersonating Apple to invite victims to participate in short surveys and provide an expensive TV set as a reward. 

  • The top five states being targeted are Texas, California, New York, North Carolina and Florida.

“Scammers love to use Apple as a lure due to the company’s popularity, with the latest being a survey scam offering a high-end TV as the prize,” Jon Clay, Trend Micro’s vice president of Threat Intelligence told ConsumerAffairs. “The scammer’s prize is the victim’s personal information or to steal their money and/or credit card information.”  

Clay says the offer of too-good-to-be-true prizes for a survey should be a major red flag since no company gives away rewards like that for filling out a survey.  

Fake Avast Scam 

  • The Trend Micro research team found scammers impersonating Avast to send customers device alerts and ask them to click the ‘Fix now’ button. The scammers prompt victims to upgrade their security suits and fill out their credit card information to activate the protection and remove all the security threats. 

  • The top five states being targeted are California, Virginia, Texas, Colorado and Arizona. 

 This is a play on the old tech support scam. Previously scammers impersonated Microsoft when they contacted computer users to tell them they had a security issue. Clay says there is nothing wrong with the target’s computer.

“Consumers who receive an alert that their computer is infected should be cautious when the fix is to upgrade to a paid version,” he said. “If the consumer isn’t using a security product, there are many free options to scan their computer, like Trend Micro’s Housecall free scanner.”

Dating Scam 

  • The Trend Micro research team identified scammers using dating with Russian girls as bait and sent emails to invite victims to join for free.  
  • Trend Micro detected 365 logs on July 23. 

Valentine's Day is still a long way off but scammers are using the lure of romance to target men. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow says it receives reports almost every day of fraud committed against U.S. citizens by internet correspondents professing love and romantic interest. 

In many cases, the fictitious person in Russia asks the U.S. citizen to send money or credit card information for living expenses, travel expenses, or “visa costs.”

Investment Scam 

  • Trend Micro identified scammers pretending to be a Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nigeria director, inviting mail receivers to join a business project with benefits. Trend Micro detected 2,572 logs on July 23. 

  • Trend Micro also found scammers impersonating a Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Nature Resource representative, inviting email receivers to invest in a fake fund. Trend Micro detected 2,238 logs on July 23. 

Recent investment scams have generally involved cryptocurrency but this scheme looks more like the early internet scams that originated in Nigeria.

In June the U.S. extradited a Nigerian national who was allegedly running a similar scheme from France. In most of these operations “investors” are required to put up money in advance to take part.

Travel Scam  

  • Between April 1-July 23, the Trend Micro research team identified 2,244 travel-related scam URLs, which increased by 5.2% compared to the past weeks.  

  • Trend Micro found 3 fake Airbnb login pages, with over one-third of the victims from Oregon (32.73%). 

  • The top five states being targeted are Oregon, Virginia, Washington, Pennsylvania and Illinois. 

Travel scams may not fade away at the end of the summer because of the sheer number of people who are eager to get away from home for a while. In the U.S. fake booking sites continue to separate travelers from their money. 

When using a search engine to find accommodations, look at the links closely before clicking. The links at the top of the search thread may not always be legitimate.

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