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Anatomy Of A Scam: How The Woolworths Free Voucher Scam Works

You’ve all seen it. At least one person on your Facebook feed has most likely fallen for it. Someone posts a link out to a dubious-looking site with the words “Thanks Woolies” attached in the vain hopes that they’ll be given a $400 voucher, only to have their details snagged for future identity fraud. Fed up with the scam, Troy Hunt set out to dissect what was really going on. This is the anatomy of a scam.

It’s a scam so big and annoying that everyone from the Federal Government right through to Woolies, Coles and Harvey Norman have been warning people against “claiming” the “free vouchers”. It’s had customers hurling abuse at the respective company Facebook pages about how they are “betraying” their customers by “partnering” with these scumbags. Clearly, something has to give soon.

Troy Hunt decided to take the time to dissect what the scam actually does, but more importantly, find who is behind it. He’s covered Facebook scams in the past, and is an old-hand at figuring out why people click on stupid shit.

I won’t try to summarise the whole scam, because let’s face it, Troy does a better job and you should read that, but needless to say, it’s pretty elaborate.

It detects your location to see if you’re in either Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada or even Albania, before shoving a few fixed images to make you think it’s legitimate. That includes fake Facebook Like counters and fake people who have also “claimed” the vouchers.

Eventually, it redirects you to the cesspool of the internet occupied by sunken-eyed harlots looking for your credit card details and fake “prize” draws for iPhones, iPods and Macs. Follow the paper trail further and further and you’ll be filling out survey after survey after prize draw after prize draw.

So who’s behind all this?

WHOIS records divert back to a “James Smith” — probably a fake name — operating out of Albania, but the IP address bounces into Stuttgart. This really is a global operation.

Go and read Troy’s full dissection of the scam on his blog if you’re interested in the mechanics of all this. Highly recommended reading.

Also, don’t fall for scams. It’s good to remember the golden rule that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Tell your friends, too. [Troy Hunt via Reddit]