Starbucks Facebook gift card scam leaves a bitter taste

I’ve just come across a free $50 Starbucks gift card offer on Facebook. Have you seen it? Has a friend shared it? Or maybe you’ve thanked Starbucks for their generosity in the comments and shared it yourself? Although I’m not much a coffee-drinker (I only drink soya hot chocolate extra hot with no chocolate on the top), I can see it’s appealing for anyone with a coffee habit to support, but I reckon it’s a scam and am off to investigate.

I’ve written before about how to spot a Facebook scam – see the full post here – and this has a number of the telltale signs. The Facebook page claims the giveaway is to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the founding of Starbucks, but a quick Wikipedia check tells me that Starbucks was founded in 1971, which makes it 46, indeed almost 47, years old. I smell not coffee, but a rat.

It’s not impossible, but big corps like Starbucks don’t tend to make this kind of mistake – or indeed this kind of offer – and I am definitely sceptical, but at a quick glance the logo seems pretty plausible. However, when I look more closely at the text I see it says, ‘This Gift Card entitles you to spend up to $50 at any Starbucks coffee in United States.’ Do the words ‘Gift Card’ need capital letters? There are no spelling mistakes as such, but is the copy grammatically accurate? For instance, shouldn’t it say ‘coffee shop’ or ‘coffee house’ and ‘in the United States’? These might be small details, but they’re clues nonetheless.

I certainly have misgivings about whether this is a genuine gift card offer now, but when I click through to register for it my suspicions are confirmed as my security software blocks access to it, telling me in no uncertain terms, ‘It might contain viruses, be used for phishing or be a fraudulent site out to scam you.” If had any doubts before, I don’t now.

This particular scam appears to offer a dollar gift card and is aimed at coffee drinkers in the US, but although the currencies and the gift card, coupon or voucher values may differ, there are many versions of it around and people still fall for it, even when they know better.

I can see one Facebooker’s comment on the Starbucks scam is, “It sounds too good to be true, but worth a shot!” Obviously, I appreciate the pun, but this is no joke. It sounds too good to be true, because it is too good to be true. It’s only worth a shot if you’re prepared to compromise your personal information, including your financial details, and willing to set yourself up as a target for scammers, so please don’t interact and please don’t share. Believe me, the after-effects can be far worse than a bitter taste in your mouth.

You can report scams to Facebook by clicking the three dots next to the like, follow and share buttons on a page or in the right-hand corner of a post. You can also report them to Action Fraud via its online fraud reporting tool.

And if you’ve fallen for a Facebook scam – and in all honesty it’s easy to do and there’s no shame in it – we’d like to hear from you. Get in touch via

Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist, an IPM Board Director, and a SCAMbassador for National Trading Standards Scams Team.

© Prizeology and The Prizeologist Blog, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

How to run prize giveaways on Instagram

Instagram prize giveaways are a popular growth hack adopted by both small businesses and large brands. They are a great method of promoting products and services, encouraging consumer engagement, as well as attracting new followers (Influencer, Molly Mae gained a whopping 308,237 new followers as a result of her Louis Vuitton giveaway). As prize promotion […]


New Prizeology prize promotion for KP Snacks

New Prizeology prize promotion for KP Snacks Prize promotions specialist Prizeology has produced an on-pack, text-to-win promotion for KP Snacks, which launched 1 May and is currently in stores. Flashedpackets of Discos, Hula Hoops, McCoys, Nik Naks, Skips and Wheat Crunchies encourage customers to ‘Text to win the year in cash’, and there are 25 […]


Scam alert: Dyson loyalty programme

Scam alert: Dyson loyalty programme A member of the public recently received an email from Dyson, giving them the chance enter a prize promotion. The email came from a genuine-sounding email address – – but the recipient was suspicious and forwarded it to Which’s scam alert service. At first glance the email certainly looked […]

Send this to a friend