The $1 phone scam promises a phone for just $1 to trick people into giving away their credit card information.
The idea behind the $1 phone scam is to get you excited about you getting a phone, to convince you that it’s just a step away. Then, the $1 phone scam asks you to fill in a registration form with your name and credit card info. Once the scammers have got your credit card data, they start charging money.
The 1 Phone Scams quicklinks
- How the phone scam works
- How phone scam first appears
- Looks like a trusted website
- Unusual site address
- Other red flags
- Rephrasing the message
- Sealing the deal
- How to deal with the phone scam
- If you are on a scam site
- If you signed up
- If you see ads for the phone scam
- Automatic Malware removal tools
About the $1 phone scam:
|Type of threat||Scam.|
|How the scam spreads||Malicious redirects,
spam email and messages,
ads and redirects by adware viruses.
|Dangers of the $1 phone scam||The $1 phone scam tricks people into signing up for a paid subscription service that costs a decent amount of money.|
|How to deal with the $1 phone scam||Block malicious sites,
call your bank to ask for advice on how to get back your money and how to protect your accounts.
How the $1 phone scam works
The $1 phone scam is very popular online and has been for years. It appears to be perpetrated by malicious subscription sites that use fake phone giveaways to steal people’s money and information.
A site promises you a phone for $1. Usually, it says that you won the phone in a prize draw or that you were randomly selected to receive it. Then it leads you to a registration page for an expensive (up to $60 a month) subscription service.
How $1 phone scam first appears
Malicious ads and redirects may cause you to end up on a $1 phone scam site. You don’t have to have clicked on anything. It’s enough for you to have unknowingly visited a site that was infected with malicious code. Malicious redirects are nearly unavoidable. Even old, abandoned sites may be hijacked by scammers. There’s no way to know before clicking on the link.
Or maybe you got adware on your computer or a notification spammer attached to your browser and it kept displaying ads for the $1 phone scam on your screen.
Alternatively, social media ads, spam comments, email, and texts may be used to promote the $1 phone scam. Here, you might see beforehand that you’re clicking on a $1 phone giveaway, even if you don’t yet know that it’s a scam.
Looks like a trusted website
The $1 phone scam website commonly looks like a Facebook or Google page. In some cases, it might look like an Amazon, Youtube page, or even the site of your local business.
The $1 phone scam is not associated with any of these companies, what’s actually happening is that a web designer created pages to resemble those that are widely trusted. It’s pretty easy to do.
In the illustration: Annual Visitor Survey and “Congratulations device user!”. Other relevant examples include “You’ve made the 5-billionth search” and Lucky Draw Contest. Know that Google, Facebook, and other companies have nothing to do with these fake contests, surveys, and giveaways. These are 100% scams created by unrelated people. The $1 phone scam is just using names that we already trust.
Unusual site address
Sometimes scammers throw in a familiar word in the site address to make their scam look more legit. Let’s say they’re trying to impersonate “company”. They might create an address like this:
Nowadays, Chrome and other browsers hide parts of the address that could be used to scam people, so you should only see this in your address bar:
The point is, even if you see a trusted company’s name in the site address, be very careful because it might still be a scam site.
Often, the URLs of these $1 phone scam sites are strings of words that have to do with gifts and winning, such as:
These are the actual names of some of the site addresses that I’ve come across promoting various $1 phone giveaway and lottery scams. Be very suspicious when you see something like that in your address bar.
Other times, the addresses are just strings of random symbols.
Other red flags
The phones that are promised by the $1 phone scam are usually iPhones or Samsungs, the newest models. These phones are seen as desirable because they’re so expensive (though Samsung has budget models, too). Samsung has issued a warning about scams using the company’s name.
The $1 phone scam usually shows only one or two phones as left unclaimed. This is supposed to make you feel scared and excited.
Other ways that $1 phone scam manipulates our feelings include:
- a timer ticking down until your offer expires (it doesn’t, nothing happens when the timer reaches zero),
- fake comments excited about receiving their prize, ecstatic about winning, and sad about losing,
- user interface (menus, comment like buttons) are not interactive (they don’t work).
Rephrasing the message
Usually, the $1 phone scam proceeds to redirect you to a page that offers you to win a $1 phone. This page asks you to type in your email and a password (and sometimes even your address). It prominently features the phone that you were promised. An example of such a page is Promos4you.net.
Do you want to get the new iPhoneXS for only 1€?
This page seems like it’s offering you a chance to win. It is a little ambiguous.
Sealing the deal
Finally, after typing all the required information, the $1 phone scam loads another page. This one says to sign up to watch some HD movies. The $1 phone scam is trying to get you to register on a website by typing in your credit card data, email, and personal information.
You are supposed to think that you’re doing this to get your $1 phone.
There are two types of $1 phone scams that I think are common:
- media subscription,
- coupon/reward site subscription.
The reward sites tend to promise free gift cards rather than phones (Amarktflow.com). But keep them in mind. They ask members to try and buy various products to get points. They give you tasks to complete to get your prize (which never materializes).
The media subscription sites are more common as destinations of the $1 phone scam. These sites offer “free” trials that usually cost around $1. Afterward, usually in five days, you are entered into the full membership where a monthly subscription costs either around $60 or $30, depending on the site.
This is the $1 phone scam. You think you’re getting a phone – but all you get are monthly credit card charges.
And hey, these subscription sites advertise a prize draw for a phone on their front pages. So, by signing up, you might possibly get a chance to win this $1 phone that you were promised.
Estynow.com, Greygrid.net, Gamefoo.net, Dalimedia.net, Lutemedia.net, Lazygame.net, Gravenfun.com, Donnaplay.com, Lazygame.net, Zebraplay.net, Funlagoon.net, Ladrisa.com, Fundancer.net, Nipsplay.com, and many, many other sites do this. They don’t usually receive good reviews (Trustpilot), unsurprisingly.
How to deal with the $1 phone scam
If you are on a scam site
As long as you don’t type in your information, the $1 phone scam sites aren’t dangerous, so just close the browser tab. Keyboard shortcuts for closing browser tabs are Ctrl+W on Windows and Cmd+W on macOS (press the two keyboard keys at the same time).
If you signed up
If you allowed your account to be charged by the $1 phone scam, contact your bank and ask for help. Be honest about everything that happened.
If you lost any money, you might be able to get it back with the help of your bank. And you need to know how to make sure that no more money can be taken by the people behind the $1 phone scam.
If you see ads for the $1 phone scam
Malicious programs, apps, and browser extensions can show malicious advertisements. Look for adware on your computer by scanning it with your anti-malware program (Combo Cleaner for macOS, Spyhunter for Windows, or other programs that you’re comfortable with). Use an anti-malware app to block malicious websites. Check your web notification settings and block unwanted ads.
Familiarize yourself with prize scams, be vigilant and skeptical. If you can recognize scams right away, you can save yourself and your loved ones from a lot of problems.
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