Nation Current Affairs 20 Jul 2018 Pop-up ads back to h ...

Pop-up ads back to haunt, trick netizens

Published Jul 20, 2018, 1:42 am IST
Updated Jul 20, 2018, 1:42 am IST
These Ponzi schemes can connect you to real scammers.
A screenshot of a pop-up informing the user of free phone.
 A screenshot of a pop-up informing the user of free phone.

Hyderabad: Pop-up advertisements specific to those which say “Congratulations user, you have won a phone” are haunting netizens yet again. 

This customer reward programme is a scam in which frausters promise iPhone or Amazon gift card or money. 


This fraudulent method has been employed to trick users to extract personal information. 

Such advertisements are Ponzi schemes that sometimes ask users to forward it to friends and often such ads ask $1 or $10 to be deposited in a specific account. 

These advertisements can connect you to real scammers or force you to instal malicious software. People often get these advertisements when they are navigating to a trusted site and even educated people fall prey to such scams. 

Unknowingly, Facebook users are giving scammers access to their friends list when they keep pursuing such requests. This scam, which was popular on computers, is now targeting phones, both Android and iPhone. Furthermore, such scammers create fake testimonials and endorsements by other users that appear to increase trust in the scam.


According to Symantec, even the wisest and most skeptical users have a time-window when they might click through a notice without reading, or punch in information that they wouldn’t have otherwise. It attributes this to “the main human factor is the level of excitement or suspension of disbelief that results from an exceptional situation such as winning a cash award, being under a time pressure to sign up, or finding a lucrative business opportunity in an area that’s popular, or in an area that you’ve been recently studying.”


Some users have been facing this issue as a result of the European Union’s GDPR rules. While blocking these advertisements is one way of handling it, experts ask people to report such scams and not forward the messages hoping to win a phone. “It is a normal human tendency to click on such ads and even educated people are doing it. Day in and out we get a number of complaints that people, hoping to land more money, are losing money. This is also reflecting in the social media. It is not only the responsibility of the social media platform but also that of users to report the scam,” said East Zone deputy commissioner of police M. Ramesh.


He said, “Every organisation like Google and Facebook have some standard operating procedures. They apply uniform rules to everybody and do not differentiate among users. So, if users report it, they will verify and take down such advertisements.”

However, according to Google, there were more than 100 bad advertisements per second in 2017. Google removed 66 million “trick-to-click” advertisements as well as 48 million advertisements that were attempting to get users to instal unwanted software. Online scams evolve, as consumer trends evolve, so it is imperative for people to be on alert. 


Location: India, Telangana, Hyderabad