Fake BBC and CNN reports claim £1 iPhone. Beware of Yotuube!

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Last night, I went to visit YouTube and ended up somewhere entirely unexpected.

My browser landed on what appeared to be a BBC News page instead, breathlessly claiming that you can grab an iPhone 6 for just £1.

Fake BBC News webpage

Let’s take a closer look at that BBC News page, specifically the URL.

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Fake BBC webpage

If you’re thinking, that doesn’t look like the real BBC News page’s URL… you would be right.

And if you’re also thinking that it’s highly unlikely that it’s possible to get an iPhone 6 for just £1, then you have just won yourself a golden badge for skeptical excellence.

I was thinking both of these things too. But most of all, the one thought I had running through my head was:

Sh*t. Has something messed with my computer?

As it turned out, my computer was just fine. And YouTube’s own website hadn’t been meddled with either.

The problem was that I’d never actually made it as far as YouTube’s website because my fingers had fumbled when I had typed the URL.

I meant to type youtube, and I had actually typed yotuube instead (don’t visit it, please).

Animated GIF of URL typo

It seems that Google never grabbed that particular domain, and some rot-bag realised that he’d probably make a reasonable amount of affiliate cash delivering the traffic of keyboard fumblers like me via a number of website redirects to survey scams offering implausible prizes.

I have visited the URL numerous times, and been taken to a variety of destinations on the web (some claim to be the BBC, or a bogus CNN news report, or an offer of free supermarket vouchers).

Fake CNN news report

But the common thread is that you are directed to complete a survey, or participate in an online contest.. all with the aim of signing you up for a costly premium rate mobile phone service.

iPhone offer

In the case of the BBC News “story” about a way to grab an iPhone 6 for just one quid, the scammers use some typical tactics to trick you into thinking you had best act fast:

Fake BBC news page

UPDATE: Apple’s £1 iPhone promotion ends midnight on 24 September, 2015. As of today, there are less than 4 products remaining in stock. After midnight, you wont find a 64GB iPhone 6 for cheaper than £699 so act fast and take advantage oi this incredible deal.

The scammers could just as easily take your web browser to poisoned webpages carrying a drive-by download designed to exploit vulnerabilities on your computer, and earn their cash that way.

Take care out there folks.

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.

44 comments on “Fake BBC and CNN reports claim £1 iPhone. Beware of Yotuube!”

  1. jo

    Yotuube ? got to get the spelling right in the title man! my excuse english is not my firsst language, whats your excuse?

    1. Graham CluleyGraham Cluley · in reply to jo

      Thanks for the comment Jo.

      Although if you read the article, you'll find that I haven't made a typo in the headline. :)

  2. Mark

    I think another giveaway is the BBC site quoting the stock code which isn't done over here

  3. David L

    Ok Graham, your first mistake was not misspelled YouTube,or the key doubles the "u" on your computer, the mistake is that you don't have a software program to prevent misspelling URLs.
    And the second mistake,…. Never tell people don't do this or that, because now they will,LOL. It's like a sign that says, please stay off the grass,or wet paint,don't touch, most can not resist doing just that.
    There was a hotel on the lake with balconies over the water. They once had signs in every room that said "no fishing from balcony" and that's what people did,fished,but as a consequence,many windows were broken from sinkers hitting the glass. When someone told them to take down the signs, because people can't resist themselves, window breakage went down to near zero (-:

    Have a great day!

  4. Lauren

    Um so how do i fix this if I paid the $1???

    1. Nick · in reply to Lauren

      Lauren tell your CC card company asap, after three days they will begin charging you monthly.

    2. David L · in reply to Lauren

      If it was me, I would CANCEL that card after removing the bogus charge. Just to be sure they don't try and use it again for other crap.

      1. Glen · in reply to David L

        Hi david.. very handy info. Yes i was tricked.. i thought i was scam proof.. i wasnt. So i cancelled my card.. they wouldnt dare try trick me to keep paying the monthy bill would they? Jubiify was the website that got me.. but i assume they keep changing sites

  5. Sophie

    Hello I have done this this morning and just seen this what do I do?

  6. Nick

    Sophie, the first thing you should do is RUN AWAY, as far as you can from this obvious scam.

  7. Sami

    I too was trapped by this scam and lost £1.02. Luckily my Credit card company has stopped the £74 payment and they have suggested me to cancel the card just in case if they take off more money in the future. Thank God and I will be very much careful next time.

  8. jay

    The scam has graduated to Canada now. They don't even bother to use a fake youtube account. They use the same BBC ad you see but it shows up on the page of reputable media. So there you are reading say.. the globe and mail.. see the usual ad down the side thinking you are linking to bbc and viola… they take you to the same scam page.

    So beware this will no doubt pop up in the UK and Europe… just in time for Christmas

  9. RB

    If you used a credit card that didn't go through or was declined, no transaction, can the numbers still be gotten or retained. Thanks, RB

  10. Sandy

    Re ads popping up on reputable sites, I was reading a Telegraph article on Google here in UK and got one of those win-an-iPhone things. Yes, I shoulda run a mile but it was very convincing with model number of my Samsung etc. So I answer easy questions, but at final stage I saw that if I click 'confirm' I'm not just agreeing to enter but to paying £4.50 weekly for more competitions. I've now found this is common. D'oh! I've had two FreeMsg texts since asking if I forgot to complete signup and "ignore if not requested" – and that's exactly what I did! I hope I'm ok but will check my mobile bill just in case.

    1. David L · in reply to Sandy


      There should be a couple other things you might be able to do. Most phones allow call/text blocking from settings menu. And or, your carrier may offer this option too. When I open my account page at Sprint, there are several options for blocking various content,including certain phone numbers. Or,just call your provider and ask about blocking the number from the fraudsters.
      And,it probably wouldn't hurt to run an anti-virus app just to be sure,especially if you have an older phone. (iPhone excluded)

  11. Saurabh

    Thank you Graham Cluley and all other persons who provided timely response , as just I was about to pay ….
    i JUST GOOGLED"apple iphone 6s for 1$ TN report "' and here I was , as this was the first page I observed and read in detail about the scams.

    Due to your efforts hard earned money of many innocent but enthusiastic 'I'fans can be saved from web robbery.

  12. Shane

    Many thanks Graham Cluely. They are in South Africa too. I almost believed it but i always review everything. And been looking for an iPhone too. Shucks they know how to get ya where you most needy huh

  13. Sally

    Thanks so much I was so.close even got purse out to enter card details when I thought just double check and landed here just in the nick of time btw I'm in uk march 2016 looks like they're giving it another go if it was due to arrive im time for Xmas 2015….so worrying it appeared on what appeared to be a genuine approved news feed. Thank u so much we need people like yourself where would we be without you? !?

  14. Mushtaq

    I here in UK 28th March 2016 silly person not having read these Blogs made transactions for two iphone 6 for £1 with 2 different credit cards.
    I then went on line typed iphone 6 for £1 and up comes warnings from all those who got scammed from this offer too good to be true. I immediately phoned up my credit card companies and cancelled my cards from immediate effect. At least it gives me piece of mind after reading that it's all scam and it’s just something that is too good to be true.
    Thanks guys please keep up Blogging like this to protect innocent people.

  15. Barry

    And here we are in Apr 16 and they are happily operating in Australia. I love the part where it says ….

    (TNReport) — People in Australia will be shocked to hear that Apple is running a special customer appreciation event and offering a huge discount to new and existing customers — by selling the iPhone 6S for $1 (that's 99% off the original price!)

    By my calculation that means the original price of an iPhone 6s was $100. Clearly overpriced to start with, but apparently much less than it cost in the UK :)

    Good luck everyone.

  16. Abdul

    If u cancel ur credit cards do you still keep the phone??

    1. ben · in reply to Abdul

      WHAT!!!!! of course you dont get to keep the phone, there is no phone, they will never send you a phone it is a scam to get your credit card details. Cancel straight away and never believe that an offer like this could be true again it is nothing more then a scam!!

    2. bob · in reply to Abdul

      yes in fact if you cancel your card they send you 6 phones, a new car and a big screen TV!!! its a scam man, there was never a phone in the first place they just want your credit card details

      1. Montios · in reply to bob

        Bob Your sense of humour gave me a great laugh. This scam is doing the rounds in Canada. Tonight my daughter came running outside saying she'd just won a phone…I told her that just this morning I got as far as the credit card details then bailed out in time. Anyone could fall for it. They give a countdown clock, and show you how many free phones are left…35…31…oh wait… 5 seconds later there are only 12 free phones left in the world…better hurry up and enter your visa info! Scammers create a sense of urgency so you can't think clearly, and create a sense of fear that you might miss out if you don't act fast. They take advantage of peoples inability to think when they are afraid. Take a deep breath, slow down, and you'll clearly see the scam for what it is. Good luck folks.

  17. Wayne

    Yep, In Australia, just got caught for the $1.06. My age I should have known better. Cancelled my credit card and the $1.06 is another learning curve for me the idiot.

  18. Reeve

    Hi Graham, thank you very much, I got as far as filling in the details and was hovering over the continue button but you know the feeling of when something's to good to be true … Well I googled it, landed up on your page and need I say more, I'm in South Africa and they're looking for 1 Rand, this one nearly got me, thanks again for this site of yours

  19. Peter

    What are the police doing about this?

  20. Don

    also got tricked an hour ago (28 April 2016). I am in South Africa. I did not pick up a reply on RB's comment, i.e. : "If you used a credit card that didn't go through or was declined, no transaction, can the numbers still be gotten or retained. Thanks, RB." This is what happened in my case, the transaction was declined but my card details were captured, even the OTP which was send to my mobile. Luckily it is a Debit Card but I suppose, effects would be the same. Like this would never happen to me because I am always skeptical to provide any of my bank account details – but believe you me, it just happened for the first time in my life!!! Sh**T!!! Should I cancel my debit card and / or close the account?

    1. David L · in reply to Don

      Yes, you should report the incident to your bank and request a new card. Especially a debit card. Do it today.

    2. Lowe · in reply to Don

      Don, happening to me for the first time as well – in SA. However, mine went through and they took out almost 5000 bucks without me knowing. An amount I did not agree too. Informed my bank but not sure if I will get the money back…;-(

      1. Megan · in reply to Lowe

        Just notified by my bank that there will be no refund of the transaction as I handed out the cards details. WTF anyone else been refused by bank and if so can it be disputed?

        1. Denise · in reply to Megan

          Hi Megan, did you happen to screenshot the iPhone page and show that to your bank? also provide them with the URL you visited, and explain to them you saw the deceptive advert on legitimate news sites. I have never seen this site in any of the papers it has listed. Scam!!

  21. Kirsty

    what happens if you entered all your details and before you pressed verify, you became skeptical and deleted all info you inputted. I then pressed verify and all theses red signals came up as in put in valid name cc details address etc.
    Does this mean I am safe?????

    1. Ken · in reply to Kirsty

      I almost fell for this one just as I was going to click and submit my details, that gut feeling threw all sorts alarms. Did my research landed up here. Closed that Zuuvu page one time! Scam, scam, scam!

  22. Mandy

    Guys :( i used my moms card, i was about to send otp password but i stopped, Can they still access her card?

  23. mmamiki

    Thanks for the info.

    Do they also use peoples debit card details

  24. Josie

    Nearly got done on this one. Just about to enter card details and thought I would have a look and found this site. Thank you, when it is too good to be true it is!!! looks too real on the site. Don't be taken in.

  25. Dave Bennett

    I came across this just now and followed the link. When I read the terms & conditions, it says that all participants, or winners, can't remember which, have to send their passport for verification! Mmm, does that sound genuine? I don't imagine you would ever see your passport again. Try explaining that to the authority!

  26. Ann

    I have just been done with this scam. I was taken in by the BBC article and gave my credit card for the £1. Feeling a bit uneasy about it, I called my credit card Company and they have taken £299.00 from my account, not the £1. So, beware.

    1. Paddy Mahony · in reply to Ann

      Caught on Friday evening. Went immediately to my bank the NZ Co-op Bank and cancelled my card. $499 appeared on my account with the word Pending, but I could not stop the payment and y bank was unsympathetic.I have been scammed before but I found. Visa are excellent. I will not get any phone because it seems, in their small print that you must win one of their competitions first.

  27. Chris

    Why did I ever think it could be legit, usually I am so sceptical that I would check before actioning, however didn't on this occasion. Had checked my card over a number of days and no transaction so thought it must have failed, only today 10 days later have the taken the funds. So stupid, even got the TN report page where I found the link and everything now on the page just sends you to a fun apps page. So annoyed, especially as I thought it was too good to be true and just been made redundant.

  28. jag

    i just got scammed for GBP299.99 for this iphone in Malaysia

  29. RealityBytes

    This scam is still active, now tailored for Switzerland, where Apple's market share has again dramatically collapsed and you can 100% "win" an iPhone7 for 1€, only 23 hours left to go, as [not] reported on by BBC, CNN and Der Spiegel, etc., etc.

    Amazingly, although I accidentally typed in my mum's phone number instead of my VISA card number, they still sent me a brand new iPhone 7 two days later, so it's actually all good now!

    Sorry, just joking, it's still an horrible scam, good luck to those who could not resist the lure of greed.

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