Many of us are old enough to remember the expression “if it seems too good to be true, it is.” That expression feels so self-evident! So why do people fall for the most ridiculous flim-flam tricks over and over? Is it because the delivery methods of these age-old scams have changed, leaving some of us to think that, perhaps, this time its different?
Take this message that people are fooled into passing on via text or the communications app called WhatsApp…
Technically, the act of using texting or smartphone communications app to phish for people’s information or push out malware is called Smishing. (As in SMS phishing) Were you to click on that link for 2 Free Tickets from Alitalia you find yourself looking at this top page of the website listed in the text…
What are the red flags that suggest this is a scam?
- Alitalia’s website is Alitalia.com and Alitalia.it, not alitalia.com-free.xyz. In fact, “dot-xyz” domains are often used by criminals for malicious purposes. Also, both “promozione” (promotion) and “alitalia” are both sub-domains in this address. Anyone can create a sub-domain that says anything at all. The actual domain name that had to be registered with a service is com-free.xyz.
- The domain com-free.xyz was registered on March 14, a few weeks before we found this scam. It was registered through a privacy service, masking the real owner’s personal information.
- Most importantly, checking the link with VirusTotal.com on April 17 shows 8 different antivirus/antimalware services that have identified this domain as a phishing domain or simply malicious.
Back in February of 2016 a version of this scam was being shared across Facebook and pretended to be a promotion for Emirates Airline. It was reported on Hoax-Slayer.net. The scam then reappeared as a WhatsApp message in February, 2017. We found this article by Jyoti Rambhai on a UK News website. (The website is so full of sketchy ads that we didn’t want to send readers to the site.)
WhatsApp news: Users warned of airline SCAM promising free Emirates flights A NEW scam offers WhatsApp users free Emirates flights if they fill out a “fast” survey.
By Jyoti Rambhai PUBLISHED: 08:18, Thu, Feb 9, 2017 | UPDATED: 08:19, Thu, Feb 9, 2017
WhatsApp users are being warned of a viral scam that is currently going around. The scam offers users two free Emirates flight tickets if that fill out a “fast survey”. The link in the WhatsApp message appears to direct people to the Emirates website.
However, this is not true - those who click on the link will be redirected to another hoax site. It then asks users to take part in a fake survey. The survey asks questions such as: “Have you every travelled with Emirates” and “How often do you fly?”
Once completed users are then notified that they have “won” two free tickets. But to obtain the tickets, they have to share the survey with ten other WhatsApp users. Once completed, the user is redirected to another webpage, which asks for them to confirm their details. In fact it asks the users to subscribe using their phone number to a premium message number and the cost of this will appear on the person’s telephone bill at the end of the month. If the person goes on to complete all the steps, they are then redirected to a page which reads: “Thank you for attending the survey.
“You did not win, try again better luck.”
So, we wish to amend the truism “if it seems to good to be true, it is.”
If you don’t know the sender or can’t verify the source separately, delete.