Beware! Free Apple products used as lure in text scams

Unread text messagesHave you received an unexpected text message on your cellphone telling you that you’re the lucky winner of an Apple product?

Well, I have some bad news for you. It’s not true.


Naked Security has received reports from a number of phone owners around the world who have received SMS text messages in the past few days suggesting that a free Apple product is theirs for the taking:

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Apple text scam

A typical message reads:

Congratulations, your today's Apple winner! Go to [REDACTED] and on last page enter code: 2916 to claim your Free Apple Product.

So, what happens if you do click on the link included in the text message?

Well, when I tested the link redirected me via a number of webpages before finally giving me the opportunity to win either an iPad, iPhone 4S, or a MacBook.

I decided to punt for a shiny new MacBook, and I was presented with a ridiculously easy multiple choice question to answer.

But take care before going much further through the process – you might believe that you could be in the run-in to win a prize from Apple, but the small print tells a different story:

Service costs £3 per question played and a £4.50 sign up fee. You will receive an additional £1.50 charge for a reminder message tomorrow.

Yes, I’m afraid so. The webpage is going to encourage you to hand over your mobile phone number, and then use it to sign you up for an expensive service.

If you’re not careful and don’t read the small print, you will find that you have accidentally authorised a premium rate service to sign you up – adding dollars each week to your phone bill.

This isn’t the first time that text scammers have used this technique, of course. And my guess is that it won’t be the last either.

Cellphone spammers seem to love offering Apple products as bait to lure in the unwary, perhaps because the Cupertino-designed hardware is so desirable.

Always take care about clicking on links sent to you out of the blue, even if they arrive on your mobile phone. And learn an important lesson now, once and for all: Apple, one of the world’s most successful companies, is not in the habit of giving away its products for free.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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