Even before the iPad was released to the public, scammers were busy devising ways to take advantage of early adopters. Better Business Bureau warns eager shoppers to stay away from offers to become a “tester” just to get a free iPad.
Apple announced the iPad in January and US customers were able to pre-order in March for the April release. Because Apple bumped the delivery date for later orders, rumors started circulating that the company did not have enough iPads to meet pre-order demand.
“What’s past is prologue and it was inevitable that scammers would take advantage of the excitement over the iPad to rip people off, just like they did with the iPod and the iPhone,” said Joan Coughlin, BBB spokesperson. “Bogus offers most commonly claim you can become a tester or researcher and get an iPad for free. This is a deal that sounds, and definitely is, too good to be true.”
Tech Web site GeekSugar.com recently warned about spam e-mails requesting product testers for the iPad. The e-mail directs to the Web site Testitandkeepit.com which claims that they are looking for people to test the iPad for a couple months, as compensation you get to keep the iPad. The biggest red flag with this offer is that you have to provide your e-mail address and password in order to “tell your friends.”
Offers to become a tester on Facebook also cropped up but with a different intent. As software company Sophos explains in an online video, the Facebook page “iPad Researchers Wanted—Get an iPad Early and Keep It” was designed to trick people into signing up for a cell phone subscription service that cost $10 a month. Sophos alerted Facebook to the page—which had already racked up more than 3,500 fans—and it was taken down, but users should be on the lookout for similar offers.
Not all bogus offers come under the guise of becoming a tester, McAfee reported on their security blog that spam e-mails have landed in inboxes offering free iPads—the catch is that you have to buy items first and provide your credit card number.
If you’re planning to buy an iPad, BBB recommends shopping through an authorized retailer or directly with Apple. Eventually a secondary market for the iPad will spring up online on sites like Craigslist; if you plan on buying an iPad secondhand, purchase it from someone local and never wire money as payment.
For more advice on how to be a smart online shopper, visit http://www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-technology/.