Tag Archives: Apple

App Store Scam targets iPhone and iPad users

If you’re an Apple iPhone or iPad user, be on the lookout for a recently discovered phishing scam, reported by security firm F-Secure.

It seems users of these devices are receiving emails informing them that their recent App Store purchase has been successfully cancelled. There is a link for order information, but it actually takes users to one of those pharmacy websites where they try to mine personal information.

The above linked article tells you more about it, and they make an excellent point: while the emails currently direct you to a drugstore site, which most savvy Internet users will reject right away, what if they decide to build an App Store lookalike page? Lots more people will be tricked.

There was one part of that made me laugh, though:

[T]he phony Apple AppStore message appears in email inboxes immediately after you purchase an app from Apple’s legitimate App Store. F-Secure is not sure how the scammers know you just bought something from the App Store.

Oh, I can tell you right now how they know you just made an App Store purchase: people who have iPhones and iPad always just made an App Store purchase. Do you have one of these devices? You’ve been to the App Store today, haven’t you? Come on, admit it!

Maybe I’m just jealous of your neat-o phone. Or maybe I’m not. I’ll never tell. Welcome to the Fraud Prevention Unit: your source for ambiguous digs at vast swathes of popular culture.

You’re not getting a free iPad. Nobody is getting a free iPad.

Facebook and Twitter are, once again, just lousy with a new scam. This time it involves Apple’s latest device, the iPad.

The iPad is…well, I guess it’s sort of like a giant iPhone, except you can’t make phone calls on it. It’s one of a new category of devices called “tablet computers.”

Personally, I think they’re sort of dumb. They might be good if you’re solely a consumer of content, but they seem limited if you’re actually creating content (video, music, writing, etc.).

I’m sure it will be a big hit anyway; there is a very large, dedicated population that answer “Strongly Agree” to the survey question, “I will always buy any new product Apple releases.” Maybe I’m just not hip enough to get it. I don’t look anything like the people in Apple commercials.

However, since this object has a huge buzz surrounding it, there are already a thousand “Free iPad” scams popping up, many on Facebook and Twitter. In fact, I just did a search on “Free iPad” on Twitter, and there are several new scam messages being posted every minute.

The thing is, this whole scenario seems really familiar. In fact, it’s just one letter away from the “Free iPod” scams that were all over the Internet seven or eight years ago. The only difference is that Facebook and Twitter didn’t even exist back then. The opportunity for scammers to spread their message has grown exponentially—in 2002, they mostly relied on popup advertisements and spam email.

Oh, you say the link took you to a Facebook fan page with thousands of comments from people who claim to have received a free iPad?

Those are fake. It is so extremely easy to create fake positive comments from fake users. You have to just ignore this garbage, no matter how realistic the offer may seem.

For one thing, the iPad hasn’t even been released yet. So there’s no way all these people on Twitter posting “Just playing with Ashley’s new ipad. It was free just for giving an email address at this website” are telling the truth. I’m guessing a lot of these are hacked accounts, but many of them have usernames that follow a specific pattern, which means the accounts were created solely for running a scam. The thing is, even if you know an Ashley and someone you know and follow on Twitter posts this message, ignore it. Tell your friend they’ve been hacked, though.

I’m not sure what happens if you follow the links in these messages. According to what I’ve read, many ask you for a cellular phone number, and then sign you up for a $40/month “service.”

The service? Taking $40/month away from you. I’m sure there are others that take you to infected sites that load your computer up with malware.

The bottom line here is this: nobody is giving away free iPads. Apple doesn’t send thousands of free anything to random people for evaluation. There’s still this lingering myth that the Internet is full of offers like that (“Git on the Innernet n’ you get all kindsa free stuff!”), and I’m not sure where it comes from. It’s not true and it never has been. I’ve been using the Internet since around 1994 and I’ve never once seen a legitimate offer.

Apple is a company that has a singular vision; they already know what their audience wants. Testing is done in-house, not by sending out millions of dollars worth of product for free. By the time it’s at the booth at the Consumer Electronics Show, it’s been tested a million times by people the company knows.

Want one? Cough up.