Avoid getting scammed by fake sites giving out $1000 VISA gift cards

Also Known As: "$1000 VISA Gift Card" virus
Damage level: Medium

What kind of scam is "$1000 VISA Gift Card"?

"$1000 VISA Gift Card" is a scam message delivered by various deceptive websites. Research shows that many visitors arrive at these sites inadvertently - they are redirected by potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) or intrusive ads delivered by other rogue sites.

Be aware that unwanted apps typically infiltrate systems without permission and, as well as causing redirects, record sensitive information and deliver intrusive advertisements.

$1000 VISA Gift Card scam

"$1000 VISA Gift Card" scam overview

This deceptive message states that users have the chance to win a $1000 equivalent of a VISA gift card. All they have to do is answer several questions from a survey and enter an email address. This is a scam. After completing the survey, users receive nothing in return.

Developers use this scam to collect user-system information, such as visitors' IP addresses, system information, and email addresses. Many users are often careless and enter their real email addresses. Collected information is later sold to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals) who misuse it to generate revenue.

For example, collected emails are used in spam email campaigns (cyber criminals proliferate malicious email attachments that, once opened, download and install high-risk viruses). There is a high probability that users who enter their email on the "$1000 VISA Gift Card" scam website will receive spam.

In any case, ignore this message and leave any deceptive websites immediately. As mentioned above, potentially unwanted applications also gather sensitive information, including keystrokes, queries entered into search engines, website URLs visited, pages viewed, geo-locations, IP addresses, and so on.

The data might contain personal details and, therefore, the presence of data-tracking application can lead to serious privacy issues or even identity theft. Research also shows that potentially unwanted applications often deliver coupon, banner, pop-up, and other intrusive advertisements.

To achieve this, developers employ tools that enable placement of third party graphical content on any site. Therefore, ads often conceal underlying content, thereby significantly diminishing the browsing experience. Furthermore, these ads can lead to malicious websites and execute scripts that download and install malware.

Therefore, even a single accidental click might result in high-risk computer infections. For these reasons, you are strongly advised to eliminate all PUAs immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name "00 VISA Gift Card" virus
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Symptoms Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of one's computer.
Distribution methods Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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There are many potentially unwanted applications, all of which are virtually identical. By offering "useful features", these programs attempt to give the impression of legitimacy, however, they are designed only to generate revenue for the developers. Promises to enable functions are false.

Rather than giving any real value for regular users, these apps cause unwanted redirects, gather sensitive information, and deliver intrusive ads, thereby posing a direct threat to your privacy and Internet browsing safety.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

Some PUAs have official download websites, however, due to the lack of knowledge and careless behavior of many users, rogue apps typically infiltrate systems without permission (since developers proliferate them using intrusive advertising and "bundling" methods).

"Bundling" is essentially stealth installation of potentially unwanted applications together with regular software/apps. Developers hide "bundled" apps within "Custom/Advanced" settings (or other sections) of the download/installation processes. Furthermore, many users are likely to click various advertisements and skip download/installation steps.

This behavior can lead to inadvertent installation of potentially unwanted applications - users expose their systems to risk of various infections and compromise their privacy.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

To prevent installation of potentially unwanted applications, be very cautious when downloading/installing software and browsing the Internet. Select "Custom/Advanced" settings and carefully analyze each window of the download/installation dialogs. Opt-out of additionally-included programs and decline offers to download/install them.

We recommend that you download your programs from official sources only, using direct download links. Third party downloaders/installers are used to "bundle" software, and thus they should be avoided.

Remember that intrusive ads typically seem legitimate, since developers invest many resources into their design, however, they can redirect to dubious websites (gambling, adult dating, pornography, and so on). If you encounter these ads, immediately remove all suspicious applications and browser plug-ins.

In summary, the key to computer safety is caution. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

The appearance of "$1000 VISA Gift Card" pop-up (GIF):

$1000 VISA Gift Card scam gif

Another variant of "$1000 VISA Gift Card" pop-up scam:

$1000 VISA Gift Card pop-up scam (2020-06-09)

Yet another example of "$1000 VISA Gift Card" pop-up scam:

$1000 VISA Gift Card POP-UP Scam (2023-10-12)

Text presented within:

Congratulations! You are selected by Kroger Online Rewards Program.
You have [1] Visa Gift Card $2000 pending now. You can claim it after finishing our satisfaction survey.

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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Quick menu:

How to identify a pop-up scam?

Pop-up windows with various fake messages are a common type of lures cybercriminals use. They collect sensitive personal data, trick Internet users into calling fake tech support numbers, subscribe to useless online services, invest in shady cryptocurrency schemes, etc.

While in the majority of cases these pop-ups don't infect users' devices with malware, they can cause direct monetary loss or could result in identity theft.

Cybercriminals strive to create their rogue pop-up windows to look trustworthy, however, scams typically have the following characteristics:

  • Spelling mistakes and non-professional images - Closely inspect the information displayed in a pop-up. Spelling mistakes and unprofessional images could be a sign of a scam.
  • Sense of urgency - Countdown timer with a couple of minutes on it, asking you to enter your personal information or subscribe to some online service.
  • Statements that you won something - If you haven't participated in a lottery, online competition, etc., and you see a pop-up window stating that you won.
  • Computer or mobile device scan - A pop-up window that scans your device and informs of detected issues - is undoubtedly a scam; webpages cannot perform such actions.
  • Exclusivity - Pop-up windows stating that only you are given secret access to a financial scheme that can quickly make you rich.

Example of a pop-up scam:

Example of a pop-up scam

How do pop-up scams work?

Cybercriminals and deceptive marketers usually use various advertising networks, search engine poisoning techniques, and shady websites to generate traffic to their pop-ups. Users land on their online lures after clicking on fake download buttons, using a torrent website, or simply clicking on an Internet search engine result.

Based on users' location and device information, they are presented with a scam pop-up. Lures presented in such pop-ups range from get-rich-quick schemes to fake virus scans.

How to remove fake pop-ups?

In most cases, pop-up scams do not infect users' devices with malware. If you encountered a scam pop-up, simply closing it should be enough. In some cases scam, pop-ups may be hard to close; in such cases - close your Internet browser and restart it.

In extremely rare cases, you might need to reset your Internet browser. For this, use our instructions explaining how to reset Internet browser settings.

How to prevent fake pop-ups?

To prevent seeing pop-up scams, you should visit only reputable websites. Torrent, Crack, free online movie streaming, YouTube video download, and other websites of similar reputation commonly redirect Internet users to pop-up scams.

To minimize the risk of encountering pop-up scams, you should keep your Internet browsers up-to-date and use reputable anti-malware application. For this purpose, we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?

This depends on the type of scam that you fell for. Most commonly, pop-up scams try to trick users into sending money, giving away personal information, or giving access to one's device.

  • If you sent money to scammers: You should contact your financial institution and explain that you were scammed. If informed promptly, there's a chance to get your money back.
  • If you gave away your personal information: You should change your passwords and enable two-factor authentication in all online services that you use. Visit Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft and get personalized recovery steps.
  • If you let scammers connect to your device: You should scan your computer with reputable anti-malware (we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows) - cyber criminals could have planted trojans, keyloggers, and other malware, don't use your computer until removing possible threats.
  • Help other Internet users: report Internet scams to Federal Trade Commission.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a pop-up scam?

Pop-up scams are deceptive messages designed to trick users into performing certain actions. For example, victims may be lured into disclosing sensitive data, making monetary transactions, calling fake support lines, purchasing products, downloading/installing programs, subscribing to services, etc.

What is the purpose of a pop-up scam?

Pop-up scams are designed to generate revenue at victims' expense. Scammers primarily profit by abusing/selling private data, promoting content (e.g., websites, apps, extensions, products, etc.), acquiring funds through deception, and proliferating malware.

I have provided my personal information when tricked by a pop-up scam, what should I do?

If you have provided your log-in credentials – change the passwords of all possibly exposed accounts and inform their official support. And if you've disclosed personally identifiable or finance-related information (e.g., ID card details, passport scans/photos, credit/debit card numbers, etc.) – contact the corresponding authorities without delay.

Why do I encounter fake pop-ups?

Pop-up scams are endorsed on deceptive websites. These pages are most commonly entered via links in spam (e.g., emails, PMs/DMs, SMSes, social media/ forum posts, browser notifications, etc.) or redirects caused by sites utilizing rogue advertising networks, intrusive ads, misspelled URLs, or installed adware.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from pop-up scams?

Combo Cleaner can scan visited websites and detect rogue, deceptive, and malicious websites. Therefore, should you happen upon such a webpage – you will be immediately warned, and further access to it will be blocked.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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