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Beware of free iPhone scams on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube

There's no such thing as a no cost iPhone -- but there's always somebody ready to convince you otherwise. Together with the iPhone 8 already in stores along with also the iPhone X arriving in three months, scammers have sprung into action, with the promise of a free mobile to trick individuals into giving up their data or worse, often utilizing some of the net's main platforms as a launch pad for the scam.

A fast Facebook hunt turns up dozens of Facebook groups devoted to complimentary iPhone scams, normally offering to ship along the phone after a particular task had been completed. One given to send a telephone in a drawing among consumers that subscribed to an Indian viral articles site and invited 50 friends; another known users to Xpango, a referral site that has been called a pyramid scheme.

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There are many, many more. A report published today by ZeroFox found 532 such webpages around Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+. The easiest attacks were requesting for enjoys or follows that could be used or sold to push more aggressive strategies, a practice the investigators call "fame farming." Seventy-four of these pages provided blatant malware links, but many were subtle. Most the pages ZeroFox found asked users to complete forms in exchange for their spare iPhone, harvesting information that may later be used for social engineering or identity theft.

Based on ZeroFox researcher Phil Tully, the scams were not difficult to discover. "Any time someone is offering an iPhone for free, it's going to raise a red flag," Tully says. "The chance that that that is going to be a legitimate deal is pretty low."

ZeroFox's report concentrated on societal programs, but exactly the very same scams are a problem in research. The "free iphone" hunt (which averages about 10 hits a day, per Google Trends) is filled with paid links for legit services, and either full-price iPhones or no-money-down contract prices from carriers. But past the paid advertisements, the first page of search results has been dominated by questionable surveys and "product testing" offers -- just the sites you'd expect to be optimizing for a "free iPhone" search.

Reached from The Verge, Facebook said it utilizes a mix of automated methods to scan for fraud, and that consumers must report any scams that they come across. A Facebook bulletin mentioned earlier this week warned consumers to be leery of romance and loan crawlers, and told users to be leery of anybody asking for money or attempting to move off a conversation Facebook.

When Tully accounts scam articles, he says they're usually taken down over the day, but it doesn't do a lot to keep crime off the platform in general. "I think [platforms] are pushing a lot of resources into the problem," Tully says, "but you're limited by the creativity of the scammers. Just taking down one of their posts won't stop them. They'll adopt really creative methods to find a way around that filter."