What is "Dear YouTube user, Congratulations!"?
"Dear YouTube user, Congratulations!" is a scam, which is promoted on deceptive sites. It operates by claiming that visitors have been selected as one of "10 lucky YouTube watchers" to claim a prize in the form of an Amazon or Walmart gift-card.
At the time of research, this scam simply redirected to a web page stating "Thank You", however, such scams are employed to trick users into revealing their personal information (e.g. bank accounts or credit card details, names, email addresses, etc.) and/or making monetary transactions, (e.g. fake prizes/gift shipping fees and similar payments).
Few visitors to deceptive websites enter them intentionally - most are redirected by intrusive ads or Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs) already infiltrated into the system. Note that PUAs do not require express permission to be installed onto users' devices.
Visitors to sites running "Dear YouTube user, Congratulations!" first see a pop-up window with text greeting them as "YouTube users" and informing them that, in celebration of the YouTube platform reaching a daily view-count of one billion, they have been chosen as one of 10 winners to claim a prize.
This reward is supposedly an Amazon or Walmart gift-card, equivalent to $1000 USD. The message instructs users to click "OK" and answer a few questions to proceed. The four questions are multi-choice and relate to the YouTube platform - queries concerning the regularity of use/visits, preferred content and opinion/relevance of the advertisements.
This page also urges people to hurry, by claiming that the available prizes are limited. Below the questions are fake comments from other "winners". The design of this panel is reminiscent of Facebook comments, an attempt on the scammers' part to further the impression of legitimacy.
Once the survey is completed, the scam claims to take inventory of the available gifts. Following this, users are provided with steps about how to receive their prizes, which have apparently been reserved for them. Step one instructs them to click the "Claim" button below the gift, and step two to provide their shipping information on the next web page.
Users are once more urged to hurry, which contradicts the previous statement (i.e., the nonexistent prize being reserved), indicating that the number of available gifts is limited.
During research, the "Claim" button redirected to a page thanking users, with no additional information or fields to provide the requested details, however, from the format of the scam, it is clear that it was intended to be a phishing attempt via which users' sensitive information is stolen.
Furthermore, similar schemes tend to ask users to pay the shipping fees of their bogus prizes - this is likely to have been the intent behind "Dear YouTube user, Congratulations!". Note that this is not a legitimate prize giveaway and is in no way connected to YouTube or the legitimate Amazon/Walmart companies.
The promised rewards do no exist and trusting these scams can lead to serious issues. Being tricked by schemes such as "Dear YouTube user, Congratulations!" can endanger users' privacy and financial information.
As mentioned, deceptive/scam sites are often accessed through redirects caused by PUAs, however, these applications can also force-open sale-oriented, untrusted, rogue, compromised and even malicious websites. Apps classified as PUAs have varied capabilities, which are not limited to generating redirects.
They can run intrusive ad campaigns, which diminish the browsing experience and deploy harmful ads (e.g. pop-up, banners, surveys, etc.). Other types can modify browsers, limit/deny access to settings and promote fake search engines. PUAs commonly have data-tracking capabilities, regardless of their other specifications.
These unwanted applications monitor browsing activity (browsing and search engine histories) and gather users' personal information (IP addresses, geolocations and other details). This information is typically shared with third parties, seeking to misuse it for profit. PUAs often seem legitimate and boast a wide variety of features, which are usually nonoperational.
Despite their outward appearance, they can cause serious problems. The presence of unwanted apps on a device can thus lead to browser/system infiltration and infections, financial loss, serious privacy issues and even identity theft. To ensure device/user safety, remove all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins must be removed immediately.
|Name||Dear YouTube user, Congratulations! pop-up|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud.|
|Fake Claim||Scam claims visitors have won a prize.|
|Serving IP Address (rewardsawesome[.]com)||18.104.22.168|
|Detection Names (rewardsawesome[.]com)
||Fortinet (Phishing), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)|
|Symptoms||Fake error messages, fake system warnings, pop-up errors, hoax computer scan.|
|Distribution methods||Compromised websites, rogue online pop-up ads, potentially unwanted applications.|
|Damage||Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft, possible malware infections.|
|Malware Removal (Windows)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
"Congratulations Walmart shopper!", "Dear Chrome User, Congratulations!" and "YOU ARE THE CHOSEN!" are some examples of scams similar to "Dear YouTube user, Congratulations!". The purpose of these schemes is to encourage visitors into performing specific actions to generate revenue at their expense.
There are many scam models as well as gift/prize giveaways. Popular ones include "amazing offers", warnings of fake threats detected on the device and similarly false alerts of vital software being out-of-date, etc.
Scams often incorporate the titles and/or design elements of large multinational platforms, service providers, companies and similar - to is do that they can reach a broad range of potential victims and appear genuine. Therefore, caution when browsing is strongly advised.
How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?
Some PUAs have "official" download pages, which are frequently promoted by deceptive/scam sites. They are also commonly downloaded/installed together with other programs. This deceptive marketing method of pre-packing regular products with unwanted or malicious software is called "bundling".
When downloading/installing, ignoring the terms, skipped steps, using presets increases the risk of inadvertently allowing bundled content onto devices. Intrusive advertisements also proliferate these applications. Once clicked, they can execute scripts to download/install PUAs without users' consent.
How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications
You are advised to only use official and verified download sources. Avoid untrusted download channels such as free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders, as they offer deceptive and/or bundled content.
When downloading/installing, read the terms, explore all available options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out of additional apps, tools, functions and so on. Intrusive ads tend to appear normal and harmless, however, they can redirect to highly dubious web pages (e.g. pornography, adult-dating, gambling, etc.).
If you encounter ads/redirects of this kind, inspect the system and remove all suspicious applications and/or browser extensions/plug-ins without delay. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.
Text presented in "Dear YouTube user, Congratulations!" scam pop-up:
Dear YouTube user,
Monday, January 27, 2020
Congratulations! In celebration of 1 BILLION hours of YouTube watched everyday, we have selected you as one of 10 lucky YouTube users to claim a $1000 Amazon Gift Card or a $1000 Walmart Gift Card!
Click OK to answer our questions below and claim your prize!
Screenshots of the questions:
Text presented in these pages:
Monday, January 27, 2020
Answer our questions below to claim your gift card!
Important: Hurry, only (3) prizes remaining!
How often do you visit Youtube?
Multiple times a day
Multiple times a week
Multiple times a month
What content do you most often watch?
Are the advertisements you see on Youtube relevant to your interests?
Not at all
What do you think of the advertisements you see on Youtube?
I like them
I am not interested
Screenshot of the page displayed after the survey is complete:
Text presented in this page:
Monday, January 27, 2020
Thank you for answering our questions!
Please wait while we check your answers
Checking available rewards and stock...
Screenshot of the prize claim page:
Text presented in this page:
Thank you for helping us out, (1) $1000 Gift Card has now been reserved for you.
Step 1: Click the "Claim" button.
Step 2: Enter your shipping information on the next page to claim your prize.
Important: Hurry, limited quantities available.
$1000 Amazon gift card
$1000 Walmart Gift Card
The appearance of "Dear YouTube user, Congratulations!" pop-up (GIF):
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer 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:
- What is Dear YouTube user, Congratulations! pop-up?
- How to identify a pop-up scam?
- How do pop-up scams work?
- How to remove fake pop-ups?
- How to prevent fake pop-ups?
- What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?
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:
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.