Don’t Fall for the Mystery Box Scam

Scams are becoming more sophisticated every day, and one of the latest trends is the “mystery box” scam. These scams target average homeowners and business owners alike, often through enticing emails or flashy ads on social media. Let’s break down this scam and how to protect yourself.

What is the “mystery box” scam?

The “mystery box” scam revolves around an exciting promise: you can win a box filled with high-value gadgets and smart devices just by completing a survey and paying a small delivery fee. It sounds too good to be true, right? Unfortunately, that’s because it is. Here’s how the scam typically unfolds.

Enticing email or ad. You receive an email or see a social media ad promoting a chance to win a “mystery box” packed with expensive items.
Survey completion. You’re asked to fill out a survey, which seems harmless enough.
Delivery fee. At the end of the survey, you’re prompted to pay a small delivery fee to receive your prize.

How the scam works

Scammers use various tactics to exploit your trust and excitement. Here are the most common methods.

Collecting your information

In some cases, the main goal is to gather your personal information. The survey might ask for details such as your name, address, phone number, and even sensitive information such as your date of birth. This data can then be used for identity theft or sold to other scammers.

Stealing your money

Another variation involves the so-called delivery fee. You’re asked to provide your credit card details to cover a nominal shipping cost. Once they have your payment information, scammers can charge your card for much more than the small fee or make unauthorized transactions.
Delivery of low-quality items

Sometimes, you may receive a package, but the contents are far from what was promised. Instead of high-end gadgets, you get cheap, low-quality items worth a fraction of what you paid.

Examples you might encounter

To help you recognize these scams, here are a few examples of what you might see.

Email subject. “Congratulations! You’ve Won a Mystery Box Filled with Top Gadgets!”
Social media ad. A flashy banner showing high-end smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches with the tagline “Get this Mystery Box for just $5!”
Survey prompt. After completing the survey, a pop-up says, “You’re almost there! Just pay $4.99 for shipping, and your mystery box will be on its way!”

How to protect yourself

Here are some tips to avoid falling victim to the “mystery box” scam.

Be skeptical of unsolicited offers. If you receive an unexpected email or see an ad offering expensive items for free, be cautious. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Avoid sharing personal information. Never provide personal or financial information in response to unsolicited emails or ads.
Research the offer. Look up the company or the offer online. Check for reviews or reports of scams.
Use secure payment methods: If you decide to make a purchase online, use payment methods that offer fraud protection, such as credit cards or PayPal.

Final Thoughts

The “mystery box” scam preys on our excitement and desire for a good deal, but you can protect yourself against such fraudulent schemes by staying informed and cautious. Always verify the legitimacy of offers and be wary of sharing your personal information online.

Stay safe and informed, and you’ll be better equipped to avoid these scams.