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Outline
Links in various spam emails point to a website that claims that recipients cam win an expensive prize in exchange for filling in an "opinion survey" about the browser and operating system that they are using.
Online Survey Scam

© Depositphotos.com/ icetray

Brief Analysis
The website is a survey scam. After filling in a brief initial survey, users are told they must subscribe to a ridiculously expensive text messaging service before being entered in the supposed prize draw. The survey's real purpose is to trick people into subscribing to the text messaging services. Do not trust any marketing entity that promotes itself via spam emails and suspect online surveys.

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Example

Subject: Someone just sent you a Wal-Mart Card [1000USD]

Someone just sent you a Wal-Mart Card [1000USD]


Detailed Analysis

Various spam messages currently hitting inboxes are designed to entice users into participating in bogus online surveys and competitions. Links in the spam messages open a website that claims to host an "Opinion Survey" related to the user's browser and operating system. Users are promised the chance to win an expensive prize such as an iPad or laptop computer in exchange for participating.

The subject of the spam messages may not be directly related to the survey scams they point to. The version used during research for this article claimed that "someone" has sent the user a Wal-Mart Gift Card worth $ 1000. Alternative versions may have other subjects.

Those who fall for the ruse in the spam emails and click the link will be taken to a bogus survey page similar to the one depicted in the following screen shot.

Chrome Browser Survey Scam

The exact appearance and wording of the bogus page will depend on the browser and operating system the participant is using. The above screenshot shows what is displayed for a participant using the Chrome browser on a Mac computer and includes the Chrome logo. A Windows user might see the following version instead:

IE Survey Scam

The scam page also attempts to make itself seem more legitimate by displaying the name of the region the user is in. It does this by ascertaining the user's, or his or her service provider's, location via the computer's IP address.

After victims fill in a brief and meaningless survey about the browser they are using, they will be told that they must enter their mobile phone number into an online form to go in the draw for the promised prize. However, by entering their phone number, users are in fact subscribing to an absurdly expensive text messaging service that is charged at several dollars per text sent as well as an initial joining fee. Such SMS subscriptions are notoriously difficult to unsubscribe from and users can quickly run up large bills. The real goal of this scam is to get people to subscribe. The actual survey has no purpose other than to lure people to the SMS subscription page.

These spam/scam campaigns are operated by unscrupulous online marketers who make a profit each and every time a user subscribes.

Do not trust any marketer who uses spam messages and bogus surveys to promote their products or services. If you find yourself on one of these survey scam websites, do not provide any information about yourself or download any applications.

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Last updated: July 1, 2013
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