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Nigerian fraudsters use fake gift cards to ‘steal’ personal data

Nigerian fraudsters have been distributing fake gift cards to people in the aim of ‘stealing’ their time and data, Kaspersky Lab experts have revealed this week.

By creating fake websites for the free generation of gift cards, cybercriminals are able to ‘sell’ users’ data to third party partner sites to which they redirect victims, the cybersecurity company said.

Offering something valuable free of charge is always an enticing piece of marketing, and criminals can take advantage of this, Kaspersky Lab said.

Websites that offer customers the option of freely generating gift cards for well-known companies like iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, or Steam – are nothing new. For example, legitimate apps like Tokenfire and Swagbucks buy card codes from vendors, to then give them to clients as a reward for certain activities.

Criminals have apparently recognised the popularity of such websites and have decided to deceive users using a simple algorithm. When on the fake site, the user is asked to select the gift card he or she wants in order to receive the code. After that, the fraudulent mechanism is set in motion.

To get the generated code, however, the user needs to prove that he or she is not a robot. To do this, the user has to follow the suggested link and complete various tasks, the number and type of which are determined by the partner network to which the user is redirected.

For example, the person may be asked to fill in a form, leave a phone number or email address, subscribe to a paid SMS-message, install adware, among others.

The result is predictable: either victims get tired of doing endless tasks, or they finally get the useless code. The earnings for criminals range from a few cents per every click on a desired link, to several dozen dollars for filling in a form or subscribing to paid services.

Thus, the criminals make a profit virtually for nothing, getting paid from the user’s actions on the websites of third-party partners, who for their part also benefit by getting access to personal data which can be used for private purposes.

“The success of these new fraud schemes is based on criminals exploiting the drive of users to get something for free. However, at best they will spend hours of personal time doing worthless tasks, and at worst lose money without receiving anything in return,” Lyubov Nikolenko, Kaspersky Lab web content analyst, said in a statement.

“So, if you want to get your hands on a free gift card, try to earn it on legal and trustworthy sites.”

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