Saturday, February 11, 2012

Why Most "Free iPhone" Offers Are Scams

From virus laden emails to cons that cost you money, it seems almost every free iPhone offer is a scam. Whilst you can get a free iPhone in the occasional case, most of the time someone is out to profit from you, and you can end up worse off than before you tried to get the phone for free.

In this article I take a look at some of the most common scams to help you identify the signs and avoid being a victim of these manipulative websites.

Referral Sites

These sites seem very promising at first. All you have to do is sign up for special offers, and let your friends know about the same deals and you can apply to get a free iPhone.

Take freebiejeebies for example, a site which promises you can get a free iPhone for just 22 referrals:

What that really means is you need to buy 22 different things, or encourage 22 sales from friends (or a mixture of both). That would be easy if the offers were free, but a quick look at the current offers indicates one free email software signup and the following paid items:
  • Take out broadband
  • Bet £20
  • Bet £10
  • Spend $10 on phone service
  • Buy hosting
  • Buy hosting (again)
  • Buy software
So to get a free iPhone you need to sign up to a mixture of these sites or manipulate friends in to signing up (hey what a good friend you’d be!). Plus if you don’t gamble or need a website, there’s not a lot here that appeals to everyone. It’s hardly the raft of deals on Quidco (a much more reputable service), and none of the offers are great deals that you couldn’t get elsewhere.

Plus you can only complete an offer once, and right now there are only 11 offers. So even if you sign up for everything (which would cost you hundreds of pounds) you have to entice people to sign up for the service as well in order to get a free iPhone.

Here’s other items to think about from the terms and conditions:
“Freebiejeebies cannot guarantee the receipt of any product regardless of offers completed or referrals gained. All users are subject to our fraud verification process before they receive any gift and if found to be fraudulent will never receive a gift.”
If they suspect even the slightest hint of deception you won’t get the gift.
“ We are not responsible for the availability of a product.”
Worked your butt off to get a free iPhone? There’s no guarantee you’ll get it.
“Freebiejeebies reserves the right to change the requirements for receiving a free gift at any time, including but not limited to changing the number of referrals required to obtain the free gift. “
Maybe I’m just being a skeptic but these type of terms do not fill my heart with faith that it will be easy to get the product in the end.

All of this seems like an utterly long slope to climb, for a prize that may not be fulfilled and which requires you to manipulate friends in order to succeed. For the effort required and the financial outlay you need to make, it’s certainly not a free iPhone in any sense of the word.

Pyramid Schemes

Another Free iPhone scam involves Facebook messages from “friends” who are discussing the Free iPhone they just got (Showoffs). Whilst I would certainly brag on Facebook if I got a free iPhone, Facebook have had to warn users that these messages may be scams.

Clicking on the link asks you in install an app to your Facebook page which can help you get a free iPhone too (yay!). How could you not sign up? Well because if you do you’re becoming the latest pawn in a pyramid scheme.

The person whose comment you clicked on has now received a credit to go towards their free iPhone application. You can carry on the chain as well and trick your friends in to joining if so inclined. It’s the same model as freebiejebies, refer people and you get credits, get enough and you win.

This type of thing is crap for the Internet and only the people at the top ever seem to benefit (meanwhile you get a Facebook app you don’t want and have the chance to harass your friends if you want to continue the pyramid).

In a Macworld article Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos states:
“If you’ve fallen for this trick, I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for a new iPhone,”

You’ve Won a Free iPhone!

In 2012 I’m still amazed people fall for these type of scams, but they still exist and are as rampant as ever. The scam involves a pop up saying “You have won a free iPhone” or something to that effect.

Click on it and you could find yourself in another pyramid scheme or installing a virus on your computer as reported in this Scambusters article.

Here’s another example from Twitter:

A link was sent to people on Twitter for a competition to win a free iPhone. Entering your details means you’d be passing on your mobile address to spammers who would sell it to the highest bidder. (Source: Venturebeat)

Here’s the worst bit from the Venturebeat article:
“signing up for this promotion, you’re also signing up for some kind of text messaging service which starts at $5.99 a week”

So what may seem like a simple five second competition is actually a scam to collect mobile numbers and to trick innocent people in to shelling out money for the service they don’t want!

Even if there is a free iPhone available, this is not a fair way to run a competition.

Free iPhone 5 Product Testing

Trying our a product before release is usually a nice way of getting your hands on a product for free, so it’s no surprise to see that “Free iPhone 5” scams are already starting to form around this idea.

In this scam you are sent a text message with an exclusive code. Then you get invited to use the code on a website, which signs you up for the free iPhone 5 testing. You then get asked to enter address details and complete a survey. (Source: IBTimes).

When the survey is over you get adverts for car insurance, and BIG SURPRISE an affiliate in a pyramid scheme makes a credit for your actions and you get nothing!

These affiliate sites are to blame for almost every iPhone scam (and many more free product scams). The easiest way to build up affiliate credits is to scam other people in to doing so. Realisitcally no-one is going to sign up for hosting just because you asked them to, so you have to trick people in to doing so. This creates more scams and helps perpetuate the myth that “free iphones” exist.

Free iPhones do exist via these sites, but only if you’re prepared to flood the Internet with crap, risk viruses and give away all your personal details to complete strangers.

Unless you enter a compeititon on a well known website - or happen to be a journalist you should ignore every other free iPhone scheme out there. Blagger beware.

Had a good / bad experience with an iPhone scheme or have an opinion on the above? Post a comment below:


  1. Mel Ives11:31 pm

    I tried one of these sites for a free iPhone but dint like any of the offers so it didn't seem worth carrying on with. Glad to see I might not have got the item anwyay.

  2. Great Wines11:48 pm

    This article misses the obvious - It's easy to get a free iPhone, just sign up for a phone contract. Duh!

  3. You're missing the point. Some people have lots of friends, just look at your facebook contacts. Most people have on average 100 friends on some of these social networking sites and can use these to get referrals. You and your referrals only need to complete one offer each. There's lots of offers to choose from and they're continually updating, and there's always a free trial too. Give it a try, you might enjoy it.


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