UPDATE 17 August 2018: We’ve heard this scam is now appearing in advertising space on the app of a popular UK news provider. If you see an advert promoting a deal that’s too good to be true, remember that it probably is.
25 July 2018: A promotional message pretending to be from Costa Coffee circulating on personal messaging app WhatsApp is stealing users’ personal data, Which? has found.
The new scam circulating on smartphone messaging app WhatsApp entices people with a £75 voucher in celebration of Costa Coffee’s 50th birthday. Costa Coffee was founded in 1971, making it 47 years old.
The message uses pressure sales tactics, such as quoting the number of free vouchers that are left for people to claim.
As yet we are unsure how widespread the scam is, but we have seen others sharing similar reports of the Costa Coffee scam offer on Twitter.
We informed Costa Coffee of the WhatsApp message and it has confirmed it’s a scam and its IT and legal teams are in the process of issuing a take-down notice to the accounts.
Costa Coffee has responded to customers who have been in touch directly and has posted information warning customers on the ‘contact us’ page of its website.
A Costa Coffee spokesperson said: ‘Dear Customers, we’ve become aware of a scam using our name offering a £75 voucher to celebrate our 50th birthday. This is NOT a Costa offer.
‘To get the voucher the scammers require you to share the message on WhatsApp and enter personal details. PLEASE DO NOT DO PROVIDE THIS INFORMATION – we believe it could be used for fraud purposes.’
Read our tips to protect your personal data.
How the Costa Coffee WhatsApp scam works
The promotional message is sent straight to the phone of a victim, calling on the recipient to click the link in order to claim their prize.
Clicking on the link leads you to a website survey that will require you to fill in your personal information including your email, home address and phone number before the ‘prize’ is sent to you.
When the survey is completed, you’re asked to select WhatsApp friends to share the deal with.
The promotional message and link is then sent to all of those contacts selected in a group chat message.
As the message comes from a friend, the next recipient is unfortunately more likely to fall for it by thinking it’s a safe endorsement, which in turn continues the spread of the WhatsApp scam.
What to do if you’ve entered your personal details
If you’ve entered personal details, you need to be extra vigilant.
- Bear in mind that scammers may have access to more of your personal information than seems normal. So if you are at all suspicious of any contact out of the blue – ignore it.
- Keep an eye on your credit report and bank accounts – scammers can use personal information to steal your identity.
The scammer could also add your personal information to a list of people who could fall for a future scam.
These lists are called ‘sucker lists’ and are commonly sold on the dark web.
If you receive any suspicious emails or odd postal messaging in the future, be aware that this could be a scammer who is hoping you’ll fall for their scam.
Don’t click on any links in the email and don’t give away any bank details or passwords.
Read our guide on how to spot an email scam for top tips on identifying email scams.
The rise of WhatsApp scams
We’ve seen an increasing number of scams using WhatsApp.
Often these scams are very similar to the social media scams you might see on Facebook and Twitter, as they often feature promotional deals and competitions that are too good to be true.
Read our guide on how to spot a social media scam for more information on WhatApp scams and how to spot them.