Free Laptop Scam?

Category: Laptops

Today a flashing popup appeared on my screen saying I was the 999,999 visitor and I should claim my free laptop. I was afraid to click on it, because I assumed it was a scam or possibly a virus/spyware trap. But I guess anything is possible... is there any truth to this free laptop thing?

Free Laptop Scam?

News Flash: You Didn't Win a Free Laptop!

You were right to be wary of an offer like this. On a very basic level, people just don't give away free laptops out of the goodness of their hearts. So that should be enough to set off the red flags. I decided to dig in to the details of the free laptop offer and find out how it works.

The good news is that clicking on this oh-so-tempting popup will not immediately flood your computer with viruses and spyware. Whew, that's a relief. And as far as I can tell, this is not a scam. But if you had any hopes of simply filling out a form, then camping out on the front porch in anticipation of seeing the UPS guy arrive with your shiny new laptop, you're going to be disappointed.

Here's what I discovered... To qualify for your Free Laptop, you must complete each of the following steps:

  1. Complete a Registration Form which includes your name, address, email address, date of birth and home phone number.
  2. Complete an "optional" Special Offers Survey.
  3. Participate in and satisfy a total of 13 Sponsor Offers.
  4. Print and keep all correspondence proving that you completed the sponsor offers, just in case one of the sponsors fails to notify the company that you have completed the required offers.

What Happens Next?

So what happens after your fill out the form, complete your surveys, participate in the sponsor offers, and duly catalog your correspondence?

Let's start with the registration form. The form says that any information that is untrue, inaccurate, or incomplete may disqualify you from eligibility to receive the Free Laptop. So be careful on that keyboard. And at the bottom of the form it says that by filling it out, you are "expressly requesting a phone call, pre-recorded message, SMS text and/or email from a list of Marketing Partners." Sounds fun so far right?

I also checked the Privacy Policy link on this form and found that in addition to the above, registering for this promotion automatically subscribes you to the Platinum Giveaways email newsletter, which contains "offers that we think will be of interest to you." Whee, more email! But wait... there's more. The privacy policy also states that: "Part of our business model involves sharing personally identifiable information, such as name and address, with third-party marketing concerns. We may sell, brand or share your personal information that you supply to us with other 3rd party businesses so they can bring selected retail opportunities via direct mail, e-mail, SMS text messaging, telemarketing, pre-recorded messages, or automated attendant telemarketing." You can opt out of marketing messages from Platinum Giveaways, and your opt-out request *may* be shared with their marketing partners. Not terribly comforting.

Moving on to the Survey Questions... things get a little fuzzy here. First is says that the surveys are optional -- you can answer or skip all offers that are presented following the registration form. But then it says you MUST answer all of the yes/no questions on the "Special Offer Survey" page that also follows the registration form. The silver lining: failure to express interest in any special offer on the survey won't disqualify you for the Free Laptop offer.

Now about those Sponsor Offers... To quote my father, who was paraphrasing Shakespeare, "Therein lies the rub." It turns out that in order to qualify for the free laptop, you'll have to sample or purchase certain products, and take other actions such as applying for a loan, or a credit card. The rules may further require you to use a credit card to make a purchase, take a cash advance, or transfer a balance, to satisfy a Sponsor's qualifications. And you must complete all thirteen of the sponsor offers within 180 days.

In summary, here's how it's supposed to work. You do all of the above steps, Platinum Giveaways gets a commission from the sponsors, and then they send you a laptop. A win-win for everyone? Maybe.

Here's the bottom line. If you are willing to give an untold number of marketers permission to mail, email, call or text you at any time, for almost any reason, then this offer might be for you. If you are willing to spend up to six months completing 13 special offers, each of which is likely to cost you money, then this might be for you. And if you are willing to trust that the company running this promotion will not go out of business in the interim, and that they will in fact send you a laptop, then this might be for you.

Personally, I see a lot of room for error in the process. At best, it sounds like you're opening yourself up to a massive influx of ads directed at your mailbox, phone, and inbox; and a frustrating ordeal that's likely to end in a "gotcha" scenario. Even with a happy ending, it wouldn't qualify as "free" by my reckoning. For those reasons, I'm not going to try it. But if you've gone through the process and you did in fact get a laptop out of the deal, please do let me know!

Do you have something to say about the free laptop offer? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Free Laptop Scam?"

Posted by:

steve gilbert
27 Apr 2010

A variant on the 'free laptop' scheme/scam runs as follows:
A 'free laptop' was offered by a major electronic retailer if you signed up to a mobile internet contract. Sounds OK, except that when it comes to the signing up bit the retailer finds that he hasn't any of the dongles in stock, and then there is persuasion to convert the offer into a direct sale. Or am I mistaken about this offer?


Posted by:

Jim Murata
27 Apr 2010

Bob...the person who gets this kind of offer already has a computer and will probably not need a free one....the deal is too good to get....just like gambling with little odds in one's favor...they get a free email and information and sell it to the next network scam list....what a pity people still fall for these...


Posted by:

leon dombroski
27 Apr 2010

There are indeed many ways to spell "sucker".

"Free laptop" is only one of them.


Posted by:

Digital Artist
27 Apr 2010

How many lies does it take to qualify the source as a "liar"? "You are the 999,999th visitor" is a lie, isn't it? I would say I never went beyond that, but the truth is, I went the same places you did and concluded, as you did, that the laptop, if one ever was produced, was anything but free. When I see a bin full of laptops in the public square under a sign reading "Take One", I will grab one (if I am fast enough). Or maybe I'll just ask my fairy godmother for one the next time I see her.


Posted by:

Gary
27 Apr 2010

My mama taught me that "there ain't no free lunch!"


Posted by:

Brandon
28 Apr 2010

Bob had it right concerning the fact that the promoter will receive some sort of commission for each of the "offers" (read: "sales") that the "winner" completes. Go ahead and look through the offers and you'll notice that the promoters do one of two things:

1.) They tell the "winner" (*cough*sucker*cough*) that they need to complete a very high number of offers. ALL of these offers cost the person money. Sometimes, in order for the offer to be considered "completed" the person must apply for a loan or credit card - that's not all, though. They MUST ALSO be ACCEPTED for the loan or credit card.

2.) They use some sort of "Tier Program" where the person has to complete (for example) six offers in the first tier, four offers in the second and two in the third. The first tier seems easy enough and the offers are usually either something most people have thought about joining at one time or another (DVD rental clubs, Book clubs, etc) or they are very cheap to complete. As the person progresses upward in the tiers the offers become more expensive and lock the person into some sort of contract for progressively longer periods of time.

The fact is, the free laptop probably does exist. I would venture to guess, though, that is a cheap piece of junk and that it's value would be nowhere near the cost of completing all of the offers. It's probably not too much of stretch to assume that the person will end up spending 3 times the value of the laptop in the offers. Plus, I can guarantee that after someone jumps through all of those hoops the "company" offering the free laptop will drag their feet when it comes time to pay up (ever see mail-in rebates that tell you you'll have to wait 12-16 weeks to get your money?). By the time that a person completes all of the offers, receives all of their verification documents and finishes jumping through whatever other hoops the company imposes on them the laptop/television/ultra-cool-gadget-you-never-knew-you-couldn't-live-without will have found a new home on clearance racks across the land.


Posted by:

DANIEL.M
28 Apr 2010

WELL PEOPLE ITS LIKE THIS!. I ALSO WAS THAT 9999999 PERSON AND STARTED THE PROCESS AND WELL HOURS LATER FOUND OUT ITS NOT DESIGNED TO BE COMPLETED! ALL THEY WANT IS YOUR EMAIL ADD AND PERMISSION TO LEND/SELL IT WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY DO. THE NEXT DAY AFTER BEING STUPID ENOUGH TO BELIEVE THIS SCAM I ALSO FOUND OUT I HAD A MILLION AIRE RELATIVE IN NIGERIA I HAD NOT A CLUE I HAD?????? AND EACH DAY I WOULD GET MORE RELATIVES WHO WERE ALSO MILLIONAIRES THAT DIED EMAILS ALL FROM SOUTHAFRICA NIGERIA AND THAT AREA. BUT I NEVER GOT A LAPTOP!!!!! BUT HELL I AM A MILLIONAIR I JUST HAVE TO SEND $200 DOLLARS TO GET IT MAILED TO ME???? HEHEHE LOL BOTTOM LINE DEATH TO THE SCAMMERS.


Posted by:

Ernie
28 Apr 2010

Gary posted: "My mama taught me that 'there ain't no free lunch!'"

Amen to that.


Posted by:

Larry
28 Apr 2010

I find it ironic that when I pull up your newsletter, that free laptop deal flashes on the screen. I know it isn't being done by you but there is some level of strangeness between your post and that ad.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This particular ad comes from a sponsor network that I use. I've requested twice that it be blocked, and I thought it was -- but obviously something more needs to be done. Trust me... I'm on it!


Posted by:

Ruth
29 Apr 2010

And let's say you do all of the steps above and finally get your laptop--what if it's an old laptop? One that someone donated to Goodwill because it had hardly any memory and it's running an operating system like Windows 95!


Posted by:

Ken
29 Apr 2010

In the words of the immortal Bob Henlein: "Tanstaafl!"

And the great P.T. Barnum "There's a sucker born every minute."

Actually, these days that should be rewritten as "There's a scammer born every minute." PT was not very nice. It's not that people are suckers, they are naturally trusting and most look on the positive side of life. It's scammers that are the real suckers = low-life, bottom-feeding blood-suckers - that take advantage of decent people.


Posted by:

Connor
01 May 2010

This is soooo fake and easy to spot. N00bs


Posted by:

steven
10 Jul 2010

http://a.tribalfusion.com/p.media/a4mM7iprnEXGMSXsJ10cvpmEnU3FM2VbfGV6MTPEv5QcUMPtfx0W7qWmbv3GQVXb3DUmyr4Av8RmnH4WFmXWMApWAv36YY5sUfUsJ6WGJ8SPUmWdU4Tbr35bEoUanmWaMjSTZbKSGjZcQFAoSHUcUVbamO2m7I/817456/pop.html

It is back in another form or ad, sort of? This is now a free Gateway laptop offer. You can get this one for being the first visitor. If the ad does not show, you must delete cookies and your cache and history.


Posted by:

steven ricjhards
17 Aug 2010

I just got the offer for a free laptop while on the Verizon website, the're back!


Posted by:

Dwaine
06 Oct 2010

Here's another two new scams, one from ConsumerRewardsSolutions.com as well as:

http://www.laptopdelivery.com/form/iframe/28141/4667/?&sid=1004uCcc&ref=28141

I was a fool and will be haunting these companies until I get my laptop or until they are out of business!


Posted by:

lou
29 Dec 2010

Check out these fabulously scammy terms and conditions folks!

Free-Laptop-Rewards.com is an independent rewards program for consumers and is not affiliated with, sponsored by or endorsed by any of the listed products or retailers. Trademarks, service marks, logos, and/or domain names (including, without limitation, the individual names of products and companies) are the property of their respective owners. If you do complete the requirements you will receive a laptop of your choice. The requirements are ever changing and we do not know each days requirements or if changes have been made. Most of the times, the advertisers will ask you to sign up for a few free trials.


Posted by:

Greg
12 Jan 2011

A new twist! I posted on twitter that someone broke in and stole my iMac. :( Within minutes I had several kind souls tweet me back offering to treat me to a new Mac Mini. Who would have guessed there are so many nice people giving away computers!

Think I ought to take them up on it?
:D


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