SALT LAKE CITY — A new text message-based scam has been hitting cellphones over the past 24 to 48 hours and has prompted a warning from consumer advocates.
The text message frequently has shown up from a 202 area code saying, "You have just won a free $1,000 Walmart gift card." It instructs the phone's user to enter a code at a website linked in the text.
"It's definitely a scam," said Utah Division of Consumer Protection director Traci Gundersen.
Since receiving inquiries about the text, investigators at the division have looked further into its origins. They traced one phone number behind the text to a prepaid cellphone, though they acknowledge the number could be randomly generated.
They also traced the website to the Bahamas. Investigators said both leads turned out to be dead ends.
The website ultimately asks users to download software, which also installs a program that tracks key strokes.
Gundersen said it likely will be impossible to trace back who is behind the scam.
"I'm sure they just reiterate these scams over and over again," Gundersen said. "They're going to target these reputable businesses, and they're going to make (their scams) look as legitimate as possible. They're going to try to take as much cash as possible, (and) they're going to move on and try another scam."
Walmart spokeswoman Ashley Hardie said the company does not participate in such text promotions and does not randomly solicit customers via text.
Hardie said it is possible for customers to receive a $1,000 gift card if randomly selected upon completion of an official survey. Those surveys are not solicited, she said, and require a valid transaction number located on a receipt, among other things.
Winners of survey $1,000 gift cards are notified by registered mail, Hardie said.
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