Almost every day I get texts from random numbers offering me things that are too good to be true. This morning an 800 number wrote: “PHONE LOANN. Hi brianna,You are-ELIGIBLE} for a No-DocsPRE-APPROVED}-Loan of 1000.” As promising and completely legit as that offer for a cool thousand bucks sounds, I’ve trained myself to always be skeptical of unsolicited offers. But if I saw a social media post offering, say, free Easter candy, my sweet tooth and love of seasonal treats might be enough to let my guard down and click through.
That’s just what the people behind a Cadbury chocolate scam are hoping will happen. Insider reports that social media posts and WhatsApp messages going around claiming to offer free Easter baskets are actually connected to a Russian data harvesting operation. The scam seems to be mostly plaguing the British Isles, where the Merseyside Police had this to say in a tweet:
We know it’s hard to turn down free chocolate, but please be aware that this is a scam designed to gain access to your personal details.
It’s not just chocolate that scammers will use to get your info. Earlier this year the Brits were once again hit with a promise of free food, this time offering £500 ($665) in free groceries at major grocery chain Tesco. Back in September 2021, scammers set up a fake Texas Roadhouse Facebook page with a message from the chain’s CEO Gerald L. Morgan himself saying that whoever shared the post and commented would get a voucher for a free meal for two.
In general, be wary of any promotion that asks you to provide personal information in exchange for freebies, especially if it involves any kind of account details–sometimes even just clicking on the link can compromise your data. In the case of receiving an offer directly via text/email/DM from a brand or restaurant, it’s always a good idea to reach out to their PR department or customer service line to double-check the deal. You never know, by alerting them to anything that sounds suspicious, you just might save others from getting scammed.