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Kroger Publix scam

An old scam is making the rounds again – this time, shoppers at Kroger and Publix are wondering where their $250 gift card is, that they were promised for filling out an online survey.

Here’s a helpful hint – it ain’t coming.

Shortly before Christmas, posts began appearing on Facebook that read “Get a Free $250 Kroger Gift Card this Christmas (79 Remaining)” and “Get a Free $250 Publix Gift Card this Christmas (79 Remaining).”

Only 79 remaining! Better act fast!

And many did, only to find that there were no gift cards available at all. But they only found that out after jumping through several hoops – first, they had to share the offer on Facebook, then participate in one or more online surveys.

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What actually happened was, the owner of the bogus site earned a commission for every person who took part in a survey. And each person who did so, unwittingly perpetuated the scam by sharing it on their Facebook page for their friends to see. Then their friends take the survey, line the scammers’ pockets, share it on their Facebook page for their friends to see – and so on.

This scam has made the rounds before, with only the names of the stores changing. Two years ago, it was Costco, then Amazon. The owners of the sites www.christmasideal-dot-com-slash-publix and
www.giveawaychristmas4u-dot-com-slash-krogergift also are registered as owning about a dozen other domains, including www.newyeargiftpromo-dot-com, which suggests that the scam may extend into the new year, possibly using a different store’s name. (Update: indeed, the scammers have now moved on to Target, offering a “Free $250 Target New Year Gift card”.)

Most people figured out that it was a scam once they clicked through to one of the sites, or participated in the suspect surveys. But some still haven’t quite figured it out. “Publix is bad because they trick you into liking them to get a $250 certificate,” one shopper ranted on Publix’s Facebook page. “Very disappointed in you Publix for being a part of such a huge scam!!” wrote another. “Dear Kroger,” commented another angry Facebook fan, “brilliant marketing does not include lying to your customers. Instead, I will now boycott you for lying.” And from another Kroger fan, “you want me to promote your store and you offer something in return only to direct me to some stupid site that wants surveys and email address?”

Both stores have sought to reassure customers that they have no connection to the scams, with Publix adding that their “legal team is looking into it.”

In the meantime, if you see a similar offer and wonder whether it might be real, consider this – Kroger has nearly three quarters of a million Facebook fans, and Publix more than 2 million. If the stores offered each of those fans a $250 gift card just for filling out a simple survey, they’d be on the hook for $687 million. That’s a heck of a marketing budget for a Facebook promotion.

So, as with most things in life, if it seems too good to be true – it probably is. If you shop smart and use coupons, you might be able to save $250 on your next grocery shopping trip – but probably not by using a gift card that someone sent you for clicking on a Facebook link.

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2 Comments

  1. Always alert me for the survey and please if possible send me the data after collecting the information. Thank you.

  2. there is a certain point where I reach the ‘what the heck is wrong with you?’ when people fall for these things, at this point.

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