What better way to prepare for the inevitable end of all human civilization than by filling out an annoying survey on Facebook in the hopes of scoring a free Starbucks gift card?
For nearly a month, a scam has been making the rounds on Facebook claiming to have a "Leaked NASA video" confirming that the Mayans were right, and that the apocalypse will happen on Dec. 21, 2012. As GFI Labs explained, the message, "2012 Doomsday Confirmed: NASA Warns Be Prepared!!" asks users first to share the link, and then redirects them to a Web page where they are asked to fill out a survey in exchange for proof of the apocalypse.
GFI Labs is quick to dispel the hype: "What finer way to ward off death by asteroid, mystical fire, machine-gun toting dinosaurs and maybe even the odd alien invasion by, er, liking some random Facebook thing and nabbing a gift card?"
But it's not just any gift card, it’s a £100 (about $161) Starbucks gift card! Actually, there's no gift card, it's just a sweet-sounding lure. But you won't know that until you hand over your name, ZIP code, phone number, date of birth and email address to the survey scammers, all of which better sets them up to launch targeted phishing and malware attacks against you.
As with most successful Internet scams, this one taps into people's curiosity and fear. Mixed with an "exclusive video" and a (fake) seal of approval from NASA, it's not surprising the original scam post has been clicked more than 100,000 times since March 28.
Avoid these obvious traps by using basic common sense and taking unsolicited emails and messages, especially on Facebook, with a healthy dose of skepticism. Don't click on links or videos on Facebook that seem suspicious, and make sure you keep your computer's anti-virus software up-to-date in the event your catastrophe curiosity gets the best of you.