Fake News: Costco NOT Giving Free $150 Coupon Per family to Celebrate 50th Anniversary

Hoax Alert

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Costco NOT Giving Free $150 Coupon Per family to Celebrate 50th Anniversary

Is Costco giving out free $150 coupons to families to celebrate its 50th Anniversary? No, that's not true: a scam website is luring visitors by promising Costco coupons in exchange for completing surveys but the whole thing is a scam designed to steal personal information. The setup is similar to earlier scams targeting different brands before. Costco was founded (as Price Club) in July 1976, making it 42 years old. It only became Costco in September of 1983, 35 years ago.

An example of the scam can be seen here (archived here), the intro to the scam reads:

Congratulations!
You have been selected to take part in our short survey to get a Free $150 Costco Coupon! We only have 752 Coupons remaining so hurry up!

The site is part of a larger network of scam websites that all operate in the same manner. First three questions are asked, typically asking if you are satisified with some brand, if you have used their product or if you would recommend it to others. Three possible answers are offered each time "Yes", "No" or "Don't remember".

No matter what answers are given, visitors are redirected to a screen that looks like this, inviting them to share and like the page on Facebook to claim the prize:

dunkinfake.jpg

The comment form at the bottom is also fake: comments are automatically appearing but they do not come from real people, the whole thing is scripted: if the page is reloaded the same comments start appearing again. Clicking the share button does bring up a real share popup from Facebook but it does not share the exact URL of the page: it varies the random-looking string of letters and numbers at the end so that to Facebook it will look like a new and different article that is being shared. This makes it harder to detect and do something about it because each individual link needs to be individually reported and taken down.

Clicking the like button takes people through a series of redirects via various pages, probably depending on which ads or scams the people behind the site need to promote at the time. But no prize will show up at your door in the end.

The scammers behind the site regularily launch new sites targeting different brands and businesses but they all look similar. Earlier versions we spotted were aimed at Little Caesars, Dunkin' Donuts, JetBlue, Delta and Alaska Airlines.


  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

About us

International Fact-Checking Organization

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, deceptive or inaccurate stories (or media) making the rounds on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.

Lead Stories is a:


Follow us on social media

Most Read

Most Recent

Share your opinion