Trader Joe’s on April 15, 2020 announced a scam involving an “organization” that is impersonating the company and claiming that Trader Joe’s is offering a voucher for free groceries at the grocery retailer.
“Trader Joe’s has announced that it is giving away free groceries worth $150 to everyone due to (sic) Coronavirus Pandemic. Hurry up! Collect your FREE voucher.”
The message which is being shared on Facebook and WhatsApp, and includes a link to a domain that looks a little like Trader Joe’s actual domain. But it is not affiliated with Trader Joe’s.
Some amounts have claimed $150 values and some have complained $250 values.
Trader Joe’s Response
To Our Valued Customers:
It has been brought to our attention that organizations may be appropriating the Trader Joe’s name in association with Coupon, Discount or Gift Card offerings online. Trader Joe’s has NO association with these organizations. We do not offer any Trader Joe’s coupons, discounts or gift cards online.
When alerted to the existence of misleading promotions of this nature, we actively attempt to get our name removed.
The only means we use to communicate with our customers online is via our website (www.traderjoes.com) and our eNewsletter, which you will only receive if you have elected to hear from us via our “Newsletter Sign-up.”
We protect the privacy of the information our customers share with us, and we will never ask for our customers to provide any personal or financial details in our communications.
Two weeks later, the fraudulent message is still being shared around to potential victims on Facebook and WhatsApp.
The intent of the fraudsters is initially unknown, but scams like these can attempt to install malware on smartphones and computers, or they can involve phishing attempts to steal victims’ identities or get money from various types of financial accounts.
If malware is installed when a victim simply visits the fake page, popups might start appearing on a smartphone or computer. Fraudsters can make money on affiliate ads that might appear on the popups. It is always possible someone has figured out ways to cause more serious harm with malware, too.
If someone has become a victim of this scam and opened the link, it is a good idea to reset the smartphone browser to remove cookies or other malware that might be associated with the browser.
Use the following procedure, but do it only when you are prepared to enter your passwords for accounts you might need to use on your Apple iPhone or computer.
Instructions for Apple iPhone
Turn on Airplane Mode
Turn Wi-Fi off
Go to Settings: Safari
Tap Clear History and Website Data
Double-press the HOME button, find the Safari screen image and swipe it up to close the app (or use the appropriate method for your model of Apple iPhone and version of iOS … e.g., devices without Home Button, slide up from bottom and hold until apps appear in carousel).
Restart your Apple iPhone
Turn Wi-Fi on
Turn off Airplane Mode
Keep in mind that some malware can infect home Wi-Fi routers. It is possible that all devices in a house may need to be reset, including the router to prevent re-infection by the malware.
Finnish cyber security and privacy company F-Secure based in Helsinki, Finland has an online tool for checking Wi-Fi routers that can check to see if your router’s DNS has been hijacked. When a router’s is hijacked, users can be redirected to a fake version of an online banking site, for example.
If a victim has actually filled out the form, then there might be a more serious problem regarding identity theft, and that victim needs to change passwords and keep an eye on their accounts for security breaches.
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