Congrats, You Won A Text From A Scammer, Not $200 From Target

Jim filled out a Target survey for the chance to win $5,000, and was excited to get a seemingly related phone call from someone telling him he had won a $200 runner-up prize. Then his heart sank when the guy on the other line demanded a $2.95 shipping fee up front to collect his money. Noting the dead giveaway of a con, he refused.

He writes:

I got a text message today saying I won $200 to call to collect my winnings. I called them and gave them my name then they wanted me to pay a $2.95 S/H charge and wanted my credit card number. I told them to take it off the $200.00 and just send the $197.95. Well I knew they were scamming me so I ask if they were trying to scam me and they hung up.

Kids, be like Jim and never give your credit card number out to friendly contest prize announcers.


Edit Your Comment

  1. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    He seemed very proud of the fact that he knew they were trying to scam him, but did he stop to wonder whether he filled out a real Target survey?

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      Most businesses these days seem to have “Fill out this free survey for a chance to win a $$$$ shoping spree!” printed right on the receipts.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        yep. home depot and sams club both have them. i prefer the one from arby’s though where you are guaranteed a prize – fill out the survey, get the code to write on your receipt and the receipt becomes a coupon for a free sandwich.

    • mythago says:

      It’s probably one of the surveys they print on the bottom of the receipt. Which raises the question of whether the scammers just spam text messages assuming that somebody who shops at Target will reply, or whether they actually have some in for those surveys.

    • aloria says:

      Every time I shop at Target, they have something at the bottom of the receipt advertising a survey. I didn’t see anything that indicates the scammers mentioned Target, so I suspect they were just cold-calling people and this was simply a coincidence.

      • Murph1908 says:

        Makes sense. If you spam text enough people, knowing that there’s a Target survey out there, you’ll hit some people who recently filled it out. Hopefully (for the scammer) a few of them reply.

        It’s the same thing as the ‘Football Guru’ scam.

        Email 100,000 people with a SURE FIRE DEAD LOCK prediction of the Monday Night Football game. Half you pick Dallas, half you pick NY.

        Next week, send the 50,000 people who you sent the NY prediction the next game’s prediction, half with one team, half the other.

        Repeat the following week with the 25,000 you got right.

        After 12,500 people see you went 3 for 3, maybe 100 think you are a genius and will pay you $100 for your prediction next week. Bam. $10k

    • GGV says:

      lol, I was thinking that he seemed very proud of himself too. But more along the lines of I hope he knows that anyone with half of a brain should have been able to spot this scam. Just because there are a lot of morons who wouldn’t have doesn’t make having moderate intelligence an accomplishment. Reminds me of a Chris Rock joke about people demanding praise for doing what they’re supposed to do (“Shoot, I take care of my kids.” “You’re supposed to take care of your kids. What do you want? A cookie?!?”)

  2. mobiuschic42 says:

    I’m not sure, from this article, how the survey and the text were related. Did the text say “You’ve won a runner up prize from the Target survey!” or did the OP just guess that they were related?

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Yeah, I was wondering if the text said you won a runner up prize, and when they call in, they use cold reading tricks to get the caller to fill in/reveal the info about who the prize is from.

    • qwickone says:

      Maybe the text came shortly after the survey, so he thought they were related? That’s what I figured it was

  3. osiris73 says:

    I can’t be the only one noticing this, but do Phil’s posts almost always lack crucial details?

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      I was trying to figure out if in order to read these correctly, you need to be in the same frame of mind as when they were written. I will try to read this again at 4am.

    • pop top says:

      You’re not the only one, just read the comments of pretty much any article by him.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      um, yeah. i’ve been known to observe that also.

    • Hoot says:

      Is he Ben’s friend or something? How could someone producing such obviously faulty writing get hired? I mean, a 10 year old could summarize a story and pick a catchy CORRECT title better than him.

  4. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    What kind of survey? Phone, Internet, physical? Where was it filled out? Was it mailed in? What did the caller ID say? Did you backtrace the text/phone #? Was this reported to the survey and/or state police? Will consequences ever be the same?

    • Joedel263 says:

      The Target $5000 survey is presumably the one on top of their receipts.. The how are we doing one.. it’s a website, that only has the $5000 prize, and notifies you by certified mail if you win..

  5. sufreak says:

    This is a very vague story. Similarly, I ate broccoli today, and got SPAM offering me Viagra. I knew the Broccoli Growers would never send me Viagra, so I deleted it.

  6. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Really, it doesn’t say where the survey was… in the store? online @ Somewhere else? WHY did he give out his cell #

    I recently had malware on a laptop that would redirect me from search engine results to “surveys”: “Before going to, Answer these questions” . I didn’t answer, and after it did the same thing – randomly- I figured it was a hijack.

    • El_Fez says:

      While it may not be relevant to the story, your link should help me out with my re-direct problems! Thanks, man!

  7. tinmanx says:

    This is a very important point to remember. If you have to pay to get your winnings, it’s a scam.

  8. dr_drift says:

    “I just need $2.95 to send you your money.”
    “Alright, how about $1.00?”
    “Okay okay, just the cost of a stamp?”
    “What do ya got, like, some of those Polynesian sauces from Chic-Fil-A in your refrigerator? Work with me here! Can I just please have SOMETHING?”

  9. rookie says:

    This is such a warm and uplifting story. May I have permission… Never mind.

  10. pgh9fan1 says:

    $200 – $2.95 is, last I checked $197.05 not $197.95.

  11. fatediesel says:

    Jim seems to have struggled with the math when he told them to take $2.95 off the $200 and just send him $197.95.

    • Bagumpity says:

      It was a test. REAL contest prize awarders would have immediately noticed the error. It’s common knowledge that scammers can’t subtract. Jim cleverly used this to their obvious disadvantage.

  12. peebozi says:

    can we blame the OP yet?

    let me know when we can…there must not be many liars, er lawyers, on here today. YAY!!!!!!!

  13. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    Will the OP get dinged the 20¢ for the text message from the scammer? Then he really got screwed. Random scam texts that you end up paying for to see on your phone would really piss me off.

    • Gravitational Eddy says:

      My better half got a text msg from someone on her Verizon cellphone. No info, no explanation of the text, and she promptly deleted the text msg. Then Verizon had the audacity to bill her for 19.95 for looking at that text msg. That’s the only thing I can figure out she actually did. Verizon said “it’s a legimate charge”, and yes even -I- went round and round with the Verizon billing people on whether this was legal. I threatened, I begged, I cajoled… nothing. It’s almost as if they weren’t interested enough to remove the charge from the bill for being fraudulent.

      Normally, this wouldn’t bother us all that much. She never charges anything to the phone and does not make any kind call that would be a legit charge.

      I told the Verizon rep this was a relationship killer. She apologized and asked if there was anything else she could do. When I replied, “you haven’t done anything except help a criminal perpetuate a fraud”, she dismissed me with the standard “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you. Have a nice day and thank you for calling Verizon.”

      Three days later I bought two prepaid cell phones (each cost a one time price of $129, and they are “on” for 365 days and come with 300 minutes of airtime, (that’s less than $11/month each)) and called Verizon up to cancel the service.

    • GGV says:

      I’ve been getting “Do you the IRS $10,000” messages and T-mobile is charging me for them. Because they come from phone numbers the only option I have is to completely block all texts to my line, which is unreasonable. I’ve already placed a block on messages from computer-generated texts, but there isn’t much else I can do.

  14. mandy_Reeves says:

    so..does he want a medal or just the monument…I make my own gift cards at home….