Outside a Best Buy Retail Store at Night

Outside a Best Buy Retail Store at Night

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Scambook Predicts Massive Best Buy Text Message Scam This Holiday Season Causing Damages Over $40k

Hold onto your phone! Consumers nationwide are under fire from an aggressive text message spam campaign and your cell phone may be next. This latest attack tells victims that they’ve won a free $1000 Best Buy gift card on BestBuyWin.net or BestBuyWin.mobi in an effort to collect the victim’s personal information. It’s a fresh barrage of a scheme we’ve seen before on Scambook, but this time the numbers have shattered our records — and they’re still rising.

Based on data we’ve collected from our site, Scambook anticipates that over 100,000 mobile users will receive these texts by mid-November in an attack wave that corresponds to the peak holiday shopping season. Damages associated with SMS fees and unwanted subscription costs could exceed $40,000.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to stop spammers from texting you, but you can prepare yourself in case you are targeted. Don’t blame Best Buy. Don’t respond to the text. And unless you want even more spam, junk mail and telemarketing calls, don’t complete any of the “special offers” on BestBuyWin.net.

 

BestBuyWin.net Smishing Explained

This mass text spam campaign is called “smishing,” from SMS and phishing. Like phishing, a smishing attack tries to get your private information through threats or coercion. The BestBuyWin.net smishing message erroneously informs users that they’ve won a free $1000 Best Buy gift card, despite the fact that users haven’t entered any contests. On Scambook, we’ve received hundreds of complaints just like this:

Actual Scambook User Complaint: “Received text message stating won 1,000.00 Best Buy gift card per entry last month. Did not enter anything. they gave me the code of 5555 like so many others. It came from ph# 909-973-7076.”

Actual Scambook User Complaint: “I rec’d a text message at 5:45am from 909-837-7761 informing me I had 24 hrs to enter winning code 5555 to claim $1000 at BestBuyWin.net. I was dubious since I have not made entry anytime to win.”

The senders may be different phone numbers, but virtually all complaint descriptions cite the BestBuyWin.net website. If you visit BestBuyWin.net, it’s easy to see why some users would believe the gift card contest is associated with the real Best Buy corporation. The website has appropriated Best Buy’s official logo and its iconic blue and yellow colors:

Don’t be fooled by the logo graphics. BestBuyWin.net is not endorsed by or affiliated with Best Buy.

We reached out to Best Buy, who confirmed that the electronics retail giant isn’t involved with this smishing scheme. Here’s what a Best Buy press representative told us in an email:

“Some customers may have recently received a text message indicating that they won a $1,000 Best Buy gift card. It prompted customers to visit a third-party site set-up to look like our brands. This message did not originate from Best Buy or Geek Squad and was not a result of a breach of our customer information. 

“We have taken a number of steps, including legal action, to address these types of scams. In these rare instances [when customers complain], we individually respond to customers and apologize for any frustration or inconvenience and work to resolve immediately.”

 

An Unprecedented Attack

Based on hundreds of Scambook complaint submissions and over 150,000 pageviews from January 2012 to the present, we’ve identified the BestBuyWin.net gift card text as one of the top trends in smishing.

Scambook Company Group Stats

BestBuyWin.Mobi / 459 Complaints / Total Reported Damages $2,354,858.69

BestBuyWin.com / 80 Complaints / Total Reported Damages $75,367.24

“BestBuyWin.net” ranked as our #1 search term for September 2012.

Our data shows that these text messages hit consumers in a wave that lasts approximately 3 months, separated by approximately 1 month of low or zero activity. Consumers are affected all across the country, regardless of gender, race, age, income bracket or brand loyalty to Best Buy. The volume of complaints and pageviews surrounding “BestBuyWin.net” rose exponentially between the first two waves.

Currently, we’re in the early stages of a Third Wave that began in late September. Scambook estimates that over 84,000 consumers have received text messages about BestBuyWin.net in this current wave so far, and the number of recipients will continue to climb. We anticipate that activity will continue to increase, with minor fluctuations, for the month of October, then reach peak activity in mid-November before gradually declining in December. We may see over 100,000 cell phone users affected by this smishing scheme before the current wave ends. Damages could exceed $40,000.

It’s no coincidence that this Third Wave corresponds to the holiday shopping season. We suspect that the perpetrators of this smishing scheme used the earlier, smaller waves to test their methodology and fine-tune it for the current attack. After all, consumers are extra hungry for deals and promotions this time of year. Who wouldn’t want a free $1000 Best Buy gift card to spend on Christmas presents?

But no matter how tempting, you shouldn’t fall for this free offer. Here’s why:

 

Protect Your Privacy

So what should you do, if you receive one of these text messages? Ignore it. Spammers execute these schemes at random and they don’t know that your phone number is active. When you reply, they know they’ve hit a live cell phone. You’ll receive even more spam. With text messages costing 20 cents on some wireless plans, those fees can quickly add up. Take a picture of the spam text, contact your service provider and dispute the charges. You can also ask about placing a block on the sender’s number.

Don’t “redeem your prize” on BestBuyWin.net. It’s tempting, but the “free” gift card offer is extremely misleading. First, people who receive this message didn’t enter any contest. Second, you don’t need the special 5555 code to enter the site, and the countdown timer is also meaningless. These are just gimmicks to lure you in. Third, and most importantly, it’s not a free offer if you have to purchase something to claim your reward.

I waited for the clock to run down on BestBuyWin.net. Nothing happened. Then, I clicked “continue” without entering any code. I got through anyway. Here’s what I saw:

Notice that we’re redirected to another website, bestbuy.rewardhubzone.com, an independent Gift Redemption Program. If you’ve really won a gift, why do you need to complete a program to redeem it?

Once again, it’s a close spoof of Best Buy’s brand style, but let’s review the Fine Print and translate some key points.

“The manufacturers and retailers of the gift items offered through our programs have not endorsed this promotion and are not affiliated with the promotion in anyway.”

Translation: This is not an official offer from Best Buy.

“Program Requirements … [You must complete] two reward offers from each of the Silver and Gold reward offer page options and nine reward offers from the Platinum reward offer page options and refer 3 friends to do the same.”

Translation: Even though you “won” the gift card prize, you won’t get it unless you sign up for 13 offers for paid subscriptions and other services. You also need to convince 3 friends to do the same thing.

“Your information will be shared with our marketing partners.”

Translation: Your email, phone number, mailing address and any other personal information that you share will be handed over to more advertising companies.

The BestBuyWin.net Privacy Policy expands on this, adding that they “may sell, brand or share your personal information that you supply to us with other 3rd party businesses so they can bring selected retail opportunities via direct mail, e-mail, SMS text messaging, telemarketing, pre-recorded messages, or automated attendant telemarketing.”

Translation: Seriously, prepare for a deluge of spam if you sign up with this program.

 

Sorry, You’re Not a Winner

The bottom line is that you didn’t win a free $1000 Best Buy gift card. BestBuyWin.net is operated by a third-party Rewards Program site that doesn’t have any affiliation with Best Buy. To redeem your “free prize,” you’d have to sign up for 13 separate special offers and recruit 3 friends to do the same, handing over a ton of personal information to marketers and spammers in the process. We advise consumers to ignore these text messages, contact your cell phone service provider and report the incident on Scambook using our Complaint Submission form.

The Scambook Blog will keep tracking this unprecedented smishing attack and update this story when we have more information.

Click here to read our exclusive Scambook Case Study about $1000 Walmart gift card smishing.

Click here to watch our video about Death Threat text messages in Australia.

 

See Also

FTC To Free Gift Card Text Message Spammers: “Game Over”
No, You Can’t Get a Free $100 McDonalds Gift Card on Facebook
Free $1000 Walmart Gift Card Text Message Scam

Image sources

Mike Kalasnik
Web

Got a complaint? Report it to Scambook!

Author:

Miranda Perry is the staff writer for Scambook.com, where she blogs about consumer issues, fraud and cyber security. She hopes to inspire readers to think critically about the world around them and take action to improve their lives.

Comments

  1. PATRICIA

    JUST GOT A MESSAGE THAT I ALSO WON A 1,000 GIFT CARD. MY CODE # ALSO IS 5555. WHAT GIVES BEST BUY, MAKE IT GOOD TO ME. I KNOW THIS IS A SCAM BUT SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE TO STOP THIS HERE AND NOW.

    Reply
    1. Tim

      Got the same text from 909 837-7761. Told me to go to BestBuyContest.com and enter winning code 6207 to claim my $1000 gift card. Hope they catch these scammers.

      Reply
  2. Elizabeth Peters

    I had submitted a complaint in September but it appears the the Best Buy Stores computer system may have been hacked. I shop at Best Buy and this is not funny. Fortunately I don’t respond to text messages from numbers I don’t know or answer the phone to numbers I don’t know, but my heart aches for others who may not be as cautious. Makes me want to rethink if I will shop there again.

    Reply
  3. nolavf

    Please read the article thoroughly.

    Best Buy has nothing to do with this scam. A third party is impersonating *KEY WORD* IMPERSONATING the Best Buy company. How they responsible for giving you a $1000 gift card that they NEVER OFFERED?

    Personally, I believe if you are guillible enough to fall for these things, then it’s all on you.

    Reply
  4. metallooney

    I also got a text tonight(Sunday Oct.21,2012) at 9:38 p.m. saying I had $1000 gift card from a raffle that I hd never entered.Number text came from is 714-616-6154 and the winning code # is 6207.Total scam be careful!!

    Reply
  5. Pedaler

    On 30 Oct, 2012, the phone # was 262-948-9671, and the website was bestbuyrwdzn.com/?25, with code 8228. Claim was ” ATTN: Best Buy Rewards Zone Member, you’ve won a $1000 Best Buy Gift Card! Go to (web URL) and enter code 8228 to claim!” …. not.

    Reply
  6. James Dobzynecki

    I just got a text message from 513-441-9125 to contact bestbuy.rwdzne.com and enter code 1122 to claim my $1000.00 gift card and i was charged for the message on my phone.This needs to stop and i did not respond to that website cause I got the Walmart $1000.00 message numerous times sent by text to my phone and it was a scam also.

    Reply
  7. Pingback: Scambook Warns Consumers On New TargetContests.com Scam | PMBC Group

  8. beau sibuma

    i just recieved a text from 909-538-6732, saying go to BestBuyContests.com and enter code 3487, i went to the website and it said the website was not there

    Reply
  9. Shannon

    I just got one today. The number was 951-965-7346. It also appears to be a different address as well BestBuyContest.com. I was very very sure it had to be some kind of scam as I dont even shop at Best Buy LOL

    Reply
  10. wanda

    I RECEIVED A TEXT ON SUNDAY NOV 18 TELLING ME TO GO TO BESTBUYRWDZ.COM/I/?2 ENTER 8228 TO CLAIM YOUR 1,000 GIFT CARD NOW.

    IF I HAVE WIN IT MAIL IT TO ME AND I WILL GO ON A SHOPPING SPREE. NEED A NEW TV ANYWAY
    LOL. DONT REPLY JUST A SCAM. HAD THE SAME THING FOR PUBLISHERS CLEARING HOUSE.

    Reply
  11. Jenny.lee@aol.com

    I recieved this same text, and in response I did reply “STOP” as this has worked in previous times. However it did not this time and I receive them still in December as I did in September. Is there anyway they could see my information from this one response? ):

    Reply
  12. cs

    got this message too. I had just been to best buy and thought it was legit — it wasn’t. I entered my email address and have been getting massive quantities of spam.

    Reply
  13. Not-A-Fool

    Rec’d text Jan. 4, 2013 from 916-258-2282 for the $1,000 Best Buy New Year Gift Card award. Total Scam. I deleted the text message. The referenced web address in the text was this “winner”: [HARMFUL WEBSITE REDACTED]

    Reply
  14. Robert

    I Just got this scam today 1-19-13 asking to enter my birth year to claim my gift reward.
    look at the pretext, before the @ they are really reaching now. another lame attempt.

    Reply
  15. EveryMan

    This scheme is alive and kicking. Just got this:

    “One of your friends or family entered you into our contest, and you took 2 nd place! Your prize code is 9463 Please enter”

    From: reubenkelley41205[at]bestbuyrewards.mobi

    Felt

    Reply
  16. tivlbvnkuitjv

    January 22nd and tivlbvnkuitjv@bestbuyre(didn’t read the rest because the preview is all I saw, I refused to open it).

    They asked me to verify my birth year also. Please please do NOT reply stop, end or quit as many carriers inform you to. I did this and now they know I am an active mobile number and it won’t stop!

    Reply
  17. Nasty Bash

    Just got a text saying i was randomly picked for a best buy giveaway and i have to reply with my birth year, shit makes me mad! LOL I GOT SO HAPPY THEN I GOT SAD WHEN I FOUND THIS SITE THAT PROVES THAT IT’S A SCAM ;(

    Reply
  18. Chris

    I just got a text message from it says BestBuyPromotions.net and it asked me to enter my birth year at that website for a free cash card. I haven’t heard any reports of this one yet. Scam as well?

    Reply
  19. Gene Fitz

    I have a really hard time believing that Best Buy has nothing to do with this. With my old phone, bought through Verizon, at a Verizon store, I never got this text, but 1 week after I buy my current phone from Best Buy, I receive this text. I find that very suspicious. This could be a coincidence, but really?
    I signed up at the first screen thinking it was real, just name, e-mail, and number, but then stopped, as soon as I saw, “must complete 3 offers.” Then I knew it was a scam. Too late, mind you. Fine print is kind of hard to read on a phone screen. My dumb move.
    now I am getting calls nearly daily about educational opportunities, dream vacations for free, and other gift cards.
    I am not happy, and I am reporting all the numbers to Verizon in hopes they can block them.

    Reply
  20. Pingback: The Best Buy $1,000 Gift Card Scam

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