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Do not trust websites claiming you can win a "$1000 Venmo Gift Card"

Also Known As: $1000 Venmo Gift Card pop-up
Damage level: Medium

What is "$1000 Venmo Gift Card"?

"$1000 Venmo Gift Card" is a scam promoted on various deceptive websites. The scheme is presented as a gift raffle in appreciation of users' loyalty to Venmo, a mobile payment service owned by PayPal Holdings, Inc. In fact, the "$1000 Venmo Gift Card" giveaway is a blatant scam and is in no way associated with the legitimate Venmo service.

These types of schemes are typically used to gather victims' personal information (phishing) and/or trick them into paying bogus fees. Users rarely access these deceptive web pages intentionally - most enter them via mistyped URLs or are redirected to them by intrusive advertisements or by Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs).

This software does not need express user permission to be installed onto devices. Following successful infiltration, these apps cause redirects, run intrusive ad campaigns, hijack browsers and collect browsing-related information.

$1000 Venmo Gift Card scam

Once a site running the "$1000 Venmo Gift Card" scheme is accessed, it displays a pop-up window. The text presented in the window claims that, for their loyalty to Venmo, visitors have been granted the opportunity to win US$1000 (USD) for their Venmo account.

To enter the raffle, users are instructed to simply select a gift-box. They supposedly have three draw attempts. When the pop-up is closed, visitors are presented with a page containing multiple graphical renderings of gifts. Once a "lucky" present is selected, the website displays another pop-up window, which states that users have won a "$1000 Venmo Gift Card".

To claim it, they must click the button "presented below", which will redirect them to a different site listing further instructions. Additionally, the pop-up states that, in the web page (to which visitors are redirected), they must verify their details.

As mentioned, these kinds of scams collect private data and/or encourage users into making monetary transactions to receive the nonexistent prize. Information of interest includes (but is not limited to): names, surnames, addresses, telephone numbers, emails, banking account and/or credit card details.

This information may be obtained by the scammers asking directly for it and/or through dubious payment gateways, which record any data entered into them. Furthermore, scammers often target victims continuously. To summarize, trusting the "$1000 Venmo Gift Card" scam can result in financial loss, serious privacy issues and even identity theft.

PUAs may seem legitimate and typically offer various "useful" functionality, which is rarely operational. This software is one of the main culprits begin rogue redirects to dubious web pages. PUAs can force-open sale-oriented/promotional, untrusted, deceptive/scam, compromised and malicious sites, however, these applications can have additional capabilities.

Adware-type apps run intrusive advertisement campaigns (i.e. deliver ads). The ads significantly diminish the browsing experience. When clicked, they can redirect to harmful websites and some can even stealthily download/install rogue software.

Another PUA type called browser hijackers modify browser settings and restrict/deny access to them to promote fake search engines. The promoted bogus search engines are seldom able to generate unique results, and so they redirect to Google, Yahoo, Bing and other genuine sites.

Furthermore, most PUAs monitor users' browsing activity. Information of interest includes: URLs visited, pages viewed, search queries typed, IP addresses, geolocations and other personally identifiable details. The collected data is then monetized by sharing with and/or selling to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals).

Therefore, to ensure device integrity and user safety, all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins must be eliminated without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name 00 Venmo Gift Card pop-up
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud.
Fake Claim Scam claims users can win a Venmo gift-card equivalent to US$1000 (USD).
Disguise Venmo
Related Domains werewardus[.]com, promotionsonlineusa[.]com
Detection Names (werewardus[.]com) CRDF (Malicious), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal).
Detection Names (promotionsonlineusa[.]com) Kaspersky (Phishing), Forcepoint ThreatSeeker (Spam), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal).
Serving IP Address (werewardus[.]com) 91.224.58.24
Serving IP Address (promotionsonlineusa[.]com) 172.64.162.8
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)

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"You've made the 9.68-billionth search", "International Official Lottery", "Gift card giveaway" and "2020 Web Research Survey" are some examples of other online schemes similar to "$1000 Venmo Gift Card".

There is a wide variety of scams on the web. Common scam models are: fake prize giveaways/raffles, "amazing" offers/deals, warnings that the device is infected, alerts that an essential piece of software requires updates, and so on.

Regardless of what these scams claim, offer, request or demand, the purpose is identical: to generate profit to the scammers/cyber criminals behind them. Therefore, you are strongly advised to exercise caution when browsing.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

Some PUAs have "official" promotional pages, which are often promoted by deceptive/scam sites. These applications are also distributed via the download/installation set-ups of other programs. This deceptive marketing technique of pre-packing normal software with unwanted or malicious additions is termed "bundling".

By rushing through download/installation processes (e.g. ignoring terms, using "Quick/Express" settings, etc.), many users risk inadvertently allowing bundled content into their devices. Intrusive ads proliferate PUAs as well. When clicked, the ads can execute scripts to make stealthy downloads/installations.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications

Software should be researched prior to download/installation and/or purchase. You are advised to only use official and verified download channels, since untrusted sources, including unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders, commonly offer deceptive and bundled content.

Download and installation processes must be approached with care. Read the terms, study all available options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and decline/opt-out of additional apps, tools, features, etc. Intrusive advertisements may seem legitimate, however, they can redirect to dubious web pages (e.g. gambling, pornography, adult-dating, and so on).

If you encounter ads or redirects of this kind, inspect your devices and immediately remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins. 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 "$1000 Venmo Gift Card" scam initial pop-up:

Congratulations!
We would like to thank you for your loyalty, and therefore we offer you a unique opportunity to obtain a $1000 to your Venmo account!

 

All you have to do to get started is to choose the right gift box.

 

You have 3 attempts, good luck!

 

Get Started

 

$1000 Venmo Gift Card

Screenshot of "$1000 Venmo Gift Card" scam background page:

$1000 Venmo Gift Card scam background page

Text presented in this page:

Congratulations!
You have an unique opportunity to obtain a $1000 to your Venmo account. All you have to do is to choose the right gift box.


Find your $1000 Venmo Gift Card

Screenshot of the pop-up displayed after the "lucky gift" is selected:

$1000 Venmo Gift Card scam pop-up displayed after the prize is drawn

Text presented in this pop-up:

Congratulations!
You can claim your $1000 Venmo Gift Card


***RULES***

 

1. You will be redirected to our website to know the details.

 

2. Verify your information to begin.

 

Claim Now
Offer expires in: 03:50

Screenshot of the website "$1000 Venmo Gift Card" scam redirects to once the "Claim Now" button is clicked:

Website promoted by the $1000 Venmo Gift Card scam

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

Appearance of $1000 Venmo Gift Card scam

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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.

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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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