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Avoid being scammed by websites promoting "Spin The Wheel"

Also Known As: Spin The Wheel pop-up
Damage level: Medium

What is the "Spin The Wheel" scam?

"Spin The Wheel" is a scam promoted on various deceptive websites. There are several variants of this scam. In general, the scheme claims users have the chance to win a prize.

Note that "Spin The Wheel" is in no way associated with Home Depot, Amazon, Apple, or other companies it mentions. Additionally, any prizes/rewards offered by this scam are fake.

The purpose of such schemes is to generate revenue for its designers by abusing users' trust. Sites that promote scams are usually accessed via mistyped URLs, redirects caused by intrusive advertisements, or by Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs).

Spin The Wheel scam (GIF)

The "Spin The Wheel" scheme is presented as a loyalty program. Users are told that they have been chosen to receive prizes from the fake program's sponsors or have the chance to receive a reward for their continued support of the sponsor's product.

All variants of the scheme are presented as fortune wheels, which users are to spin in order to win the prize/reward. At the time of research, the variants claimed users have won a "$100 Home Depot Gift Card", "$1,000 Amazon Gift Card", or "iPhone 11", depending on the scam's version. When users attempt to claim their winnings, however, the scheme redirects to a different untrusted/malicious website.

Scams like "Spin The Wheel" can abuse users' trust in a variety of ways. Typically, schemes that involve users receiving a prize ask them to make various monetary transactions. For example, the scam may ask users to pay shipping or other fees to receive a (nonexistent) reward.

Furthermore, these schemes often redirect to phishing sites that record information entered into them. Data of interest includes (but is not limited to) names, surnames, addresses, emails, telephone numbers, banking account, and credit card details. The collected information is then sold to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals) and/or used to further other scams.

To summarize, by trusting the "Spin The Wheel" scam, users can experience serious privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.

PUAs can force-open misleading, deceptive, and malicious web pages (e.g., ones that run "Spin The Wheel" and other scams). These applications can have a variety of dangerous functions in varied combinations.

Adware-types run intrusive advertisement campaigns. Once clicked, the delivered ads redirect to dubious/dangerous websites and some can stealthily download/install software. Browser hijackers are another type of PUA, which operate by modifying browsers to promote fake search engines. The promoted web searchers are rarely able to provide search results, and so they redirect to Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other legitimate search engines.

Furthermore, most PUAs have data tracking capabilities. They record browsing activity (browsing and search engine histories) and collect personal information extracted from it (IP addresses, geolocations, and other details). The gathered data is then monetized by sharing with and/or selling to third-parties.

Therefore, you are strongly advised to remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name Spin The Wheel pop-up
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam claims users can win a prize/reward
Related Domains rewardstoget[.]com
Serving IP Address (rewardstoget[.]com) 91.224.58.50
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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"$500 Amazon Gift Card!", "$1000 Bank of America Gift Card", "2020 Visitor Feedback Survey", and "You've made the 9.68-billionth search" are some examples of schemes similar to "Spin The Wheel". The internet is rife with deceptive websites designed to generate profit at users' expense.

Popular scam models include: fake prize giveaways and raffles, "unbelievable" deals and offers, alerts that an essential piece of software is outdated or missing, warnings that the device is infected or at risk, etc.

Due to the relative prevalence of online scams, you are strongly advised to exercise caution when browsing.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

PUAs are distributed via download/installation set-ups of other products. This deceptive marketing tactic of packing regular software with unwanted or malicious additions is called "bundling".

Rushing download/installation processes (e.g. ignoring terms, skipping steps and settings, etc.) increases the risk of inadvertently allowing bundled content into the system.

Some PUAs have "official" download sites. Intrusive advertisements proliferate these applications as well. 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 research all software before download/installation. Use only official and verified download channels. Unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks (BitTorrent, Gnutella, eMule), and other third party downloaders commonly offer harmful and bundled content, and are therefore untrusted and should be avoided.

When downloading/installing, read the terms, study all possible options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out of additional apps, tools, features, and so on.

Intrusive advertisements typically seem legitimate, however, they can redirect to dubious and malicious sites (e.g. gambling, pornography, adult-dating, and many others). If you encounter ads or redirects of this kind, inspect the system and remove all dubious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins immediately.

Installed programs must be activated and updated with tools or implemented functions that are provided by the official developers. No other third party, unofficial tools should be used.

Note that it is illegal to activate licensed software with ‘cracking’ tools. Files and programs should be downloaded from official websites and via direct download links. Avoid third party installers and the tools/sources mentioned above.

Do not open website links or files in irrelevant emails that are received from unknown, suspicious addresses. These bogus emails are often disguised as official and important. Regularly, scan your computer with reputable, up-to-date antivirus or anti-spyware software.

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 the first "Spin The Wheel" scam variant:

Initial page:

 

LOYALTY PROGRAM
Monday, January 25, 2021
Congratulations!

 

Today you are lucky!

 

Every Monday we select 7 lucky users to receive prizes from our sponsors. Spin the wheel to see which prize you can claim!

 

----------------------------

 

Second page:

 

Congratulations!
You can claim your $100 Home Depot Gift Card!
1. Click "Claim Now" bellow. You will be redirected to our sponsor's website
2. On the sponsor's website, enter your name and surname, as well as the shipping address to claim your prize
IMPORTANT: This prize is only available while supplies last!
Offer valid for 4 minutes and 49 seconds

 

$100 Home Depot Gift Card

 

Accepted in all US Home Depot stores and online

 

Available: 1

 

Claim Now

Appearance of the second "Spin The Wheel" scam variant (GIF):

Spin The Wheel scam second variant (GIF)

Text presented in this variant:

Initial page:

 

LOYALTY PROGRAM
Monday, January 25, 2021
Congratulations!

 

Today you are lucky!

 

Every Monday we select 7 lucky users to receive prizes from our sponsors. Spin the wheel to see which prize you can claim!

 

----------------------------

 

Second page:

 

Congratulations!

You can claim your $1,000 Amazon Gift Card!
Click "Claim Now" bellow. You will be redirected to our sponsor's website
On the sponsor's website, enter your name and surname, as well as the shipping address to claim your prize
IMPORTANT: This prize is only available while supplies last!
Offer valid for 4 minutes and 52 seconds

 

$1,000 Amazon Gift Card

 

Spend $1,000 on goods and services on Amazon.com

 

Available: 1

 

Claim Now

Appearance of the third "Spin The Wheel" scam variant (GIF):

Spin The Wheel scam third variant (GIF)

Text presented in this variant:

First pop-up:

 

Congratulations Apple user!
We would like to thank you for your continuing support for our products - so we are offering you a chance to receive an exclusive reward

 

Click "OK" to claim your special prize

 

Good Luck!

 

----------------------------

 

Background page:

 

Apple Rewards
Congratulations!

 

Every Monday we select 7 lucky Apple users to receive a special reward. Spin the wheel to claim your special prize.

 

----------------------------

 

Second pop-up:

 

Congratulations!
(1) Apple iPhone 11 is reserved for you!

 

To claim your prize, click the button bellow and verify your information on the next page.

 

Claim Your Prize
Your prize will expire in 5:09

Another example of "Spin The Wheel" pop-up scam (instead of asking to provide personal information, this variant redirects users to another phishing site which delivers the Browser Opinion Survey pop-up scam):

Spin The Wheel pop-up scam (2021-01-28)

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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.

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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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