Scam alert: Facebook Tesco voucher
Here’s a quiz question for you: what year was Tesco founded? Admittedly it wasn’t a fact that I had at my fingertips, but according to Wikipedia the name Tesco was first used in 1924, when one Jack Cohen ordered some tea from someone called TE Stockwell and used his supplier’s initials followed by the first two letters of his second name to form his own brand name.
However, the Tesco PLC website says that the first Tesco grocery store didn’t actually open until 1929 (Wikipedia has this as 1931), in Burnt Oak, Barnet, in North London, but by 1939 (we’re back to Wikipedia, quoting Cohen’s Dictionary of National Biography entry) there were over 100 Tesco shops across the country.
Fake or fortune
Why am I asking? Because there’s a post currently doing the rounds on Facebook offering shoppers a £70 voucher to mark Tesco’s 101st anniversary and I wanted to check whether Tesco was really celebrating a century plus a year in business. On the face of it, it looks like that isn’t true, but in fact, when Jack Cohen left the Royal Flying Corp at the end of World War One he used his demob money to buy stock for his first market stall.
This was in Hackney, where Prizeology is based, and indeed it was in Well Street Market, which is just a stone’s throw away from the Prizeology offices – literally ten minutes’ walk from where I’m sitting now. And it was in 1919, so if you take that as the original start date, in 2020 Tesco is 101 and therefore it is plausible that there might be a celebration and perhaps a giveaway of some sort.
What isn’t quite so plausible is that basically all you had to do to get your hands on a Tesco voucher with the relatively high value of £70 was share a Facebook post. Now Tesco runs a lot of imaginative and generous prize promotions – and I don’t say that merely because Tesco is a Prizeology client – but all businesses, Tesco included, run prize promotions for a reason.
Prize promotions drives sales and awareness; they open a dialogue with consumers around a product or a brand. The points you accrue on your Tesco Clubcard when you shop at Tesco reward and encourage customer loyalty, but Tesco doesn’t derive any of those benefits in a meaningful and productive way if all you have to do is share a Facebook post.
The image of the £70 voucher which I’ve seen online is a reasonable facsimile of a Tesco voucher. By clicking the link provided you’ll be taken to a site which looks as though it might belong to Tesco. You’ll be asked to complete a short questionnaire on your experience of shopping at Tesco and, again, this looks as though it might be genuine, but it isn’t.
This is quite a well-constructed, authentic-looking scam, but a scam is what it is. Once you’ve shared the post and clicked to receive your voucher, some versions of the scam instruct you to download the latest version of Adobe Flash. However, this is another scam site and you risk downloading malware if you proceed. That malware is designed take over your browser and likely to compromise your online security.
Other versions of the scam take you to site offering further prize draws and giveaways, but this is front for further scams and if you register your personal details will be sold on to other scammers and you’ll be inundated with persistent marketing spam.
As I say, the scammers have made some effort to make this scam appear plausible, but the structure is that of a typical fake prize promotion, so be aware if you come across something similar and please don’t share this type of scam, because you’re only doing the scammers’ marketing for them.
Prizeology only ever runs prize promotions that are legally compliant – and is absolutely committed to raising awareness of fake prize promotions and scams – so if you’d like Prizeology to run a legally compliant promotion for you, get in touch. If you’re ever in doubt if something online is genuine, or a scam, a good resource is Hoax Slayer.
Read our blog for details of other prize scams that are currently circulating on the internet.
Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist and a National Trading Standards Scams Team Scambassador.