Online prize game hoaxes
Ever registered for one of those online prize games? Where you can win the new iPhone or get 5000€ cash or a free holiday or a car or maybe even the moon? Ever wondered WHY someone was offering to spend THEIR money on giving away something without getting ANYTHING in return? After some incidents of our au pairs falling into the trap of online prize game hoaxes, we would like to share some information about how to recognize them and how to protect yourself.
Nothing in life comes free.
I think most of us are aware of this rule in business and life in general. Even as a kid you might think you got a lot of stuff for free from your parents, but in return they probably expected good behavior, right?
So how come so many people believe these online prize games and are willing to register for these, hoping that they might actually win?
The problem is, that most of these hoaxes are set up to look real and we don’t even bother to check for tell-tail signs.
For example, recently someone came across the following sweepstake: http://prizewin.site/loreal. Supposedly you could win L’Oreal products by simply answering a couple of questions and then passing on the fantastic news about the sweepstake to 5 other people on what’s app.
Looks great, doesn’t it? So how do you recognize that this might be a hoax?
Who Is Search
For example, you can do a “who is” search of the domain name. This tells you who the website belongs to and when it was registered.
You can use this service: http://whois.domaintools.com/
In this particular case, the website was registered 1 day before I got sent the link. This is usually a good indicator that the sweepstake is a hoax. Typically websites are created for the only purpose of collecting personal data and will be deleted once the scam has worked, enough data was collected and either the authorities or host shut down the site or the owners deletes it before they can get into trouble.
I noticed that, as I answered their questions, the domain at the top changed. Initially I entered http://prizewin.site/loreal into the address bar but the page then relocated to testcnx.com/loreal/#. Whenever you see these kind of changed in the address bar you can be sure that something is fishy. Of course, having the name “test” in any kind of address doesn’t look very professional, right?
Many countries require content owners to post certain information on their website. If this is missing, you can be sure that the page isn’t legitimate.
In Germany, every website must have an imprint, stating the owner of the website and contact details. Further more, information about data privacy and a disclaimer must also be available. If any or all of these are missing the owner of the website is not adhering to German law.
Okay, I know this sounds weird but thinking logically is a great way to protect yourself as well! Just ask yourself: why is something offering freebies and what are they getting in return? If you don’t have to pay to enter, you at least have to give your personal data. In times when data is everything, this might be a high price to pay. Your age, country of origin, gender and contact details can be worth a lot of money to professional databases, selling this data for marketing purposes. Best case, you get more spam emails which you email provider will do its best to filter. Worst case, they terrorize you on the phone, send even more links to hoax prize games and send bills for items you never ordered or received.
In this particular example, you are not only sharing your own data, you are asked to share data of people you know. Be sure to ask before you give away someone else’s contact details, be it in real life or online! You don’t own this data, they do!
If you aren’t sure, please ask! There are many savvy people in your life you can help you check for signs of fraud. Better safe than sorry 🙂
If it looks to good to be true, it probably is!