Woolworths shoppers warned about tempting phone scam: 'Don't click'

Woolworths has warned customers over a pokie machine scam that has been popping up on shoppers' smartphones.

The warning came after a skeptical shopper posted a screenshot to Facebook of a fake Woolworths website page that appeared on her phone.

“This popped up on my phone, love Woolies just need to ensure it’s legit!!” wrote the confused shopper in her post.

The scam website, which lures people to “spin” to win iPhones and MacBook laptops in a pokies-style game, uses Woolworths’ branding to dupe users. However, a quick glance at the website URL shows that it does not belong to the supermarket giant.

screenshot of woolworths pokie machine scam on iphone
Woolworths shoppers warn online pokie machine website page is a 'scam'. Source: Facebook

Luckily, savvy customers quickly came to the aid of the shopper in the comments, warning her that the website was “not legit” and a “scam.”

“SCAM. Check the senders web address. Anything from Woolies has ‘Woolworths.com.au. Do not click on it,” warned one person.

Woolworths was also quick to respond to the shopper’s post, warning her that the website was in fact a “phishing scam” that isn’t run by the supermarket.

“While the page may seem like an official competition and have our logo, it's actually been promoted by a scammer who's attempting to trick people into giving out their personal and banking information,” wrote a representative from Woolworths.

Woolworths shoppers leave checkout with groceries.
Woolworths has warned customers to 'think before you click'. Source: Getty Images

Phishing scams are a way that cybercriminals steal confidential information, such as online banking logins, credit card details, passwords and login credentials by sending deceptive websites, or “lures” such as this to people’s phones.

These websites often look legitimate, which is why even the most savvy people can sometimes fall prey to these scams.

Woolworths, who are no strangers to the ways of scammers, offered advice to help protect customers from online tricks.

“In the future, you can also lookout for the 'blue tick' on posts from us, which verifies that it's our page posting about the competition. Hope this helps!” wrote Woolies.

Woolworths cautions customers to ‘think before you click’

Woolworths are well-versed in the ways of phone scams such as this one, and alert customers via their Scam Alerts page that they should be suspicious of any communications that create a sense of urgency, contain unrelated links and attachments, request sensitive information or is not hosted on the Woolworths' official website.

“At Woolworths, we like our customers to be equipped with information and to be aware of what to look for and the difference between genuine communication we may send you vs a scam,” reads the Woolworths Scam Alerts page.

On the page, Woolworths urges shoppers to “think before you click and do not give away any information that can be identifiable to you,” while providing examples of current and past scams targeting their customers.

Screenshot of a scam sms message targeting Woolworths customers.
A current scam SMS lures Woolies customers to click on links to claim prizes and 'gifts'. Source: Woolworths Group

One of the most recent scams circulating includes a series of deceptive SMS messages that lure customers to click on links to claim prizes and “gifts”.

Woolworths cautioned shoppers to avoid clicking any links from unverified sources.

Another scam that has been currently doing the rounds involves a fake email that is being sent to Woolworths customers, urging them to take a survey and pay $3 for a chance to win a prize.

An example of a Woolworths survey phishing email being sent to customers.
Woolworths confirms survey email is a 'phishing email' and was not sent by the supermarket. Source: Woolworths Group

However, Woolworths has confirmed that it is indeed a “phishing email” and it was not sent by the supermarket.

Aussies lose $851 million to scammers during pandemic

According to a report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Australians lost more than $850 million to scams in 2020 – as scammers capitalised on the Covid-19 pandemic to target vulnerable people.

The Targeting Scams report was based on more than 440,000 reports of scams and compiled data from Scamwatch, ReportCyber, government agencies and 10 banks and financial intermediaries.

targeting scams report graph showing top scams by loss
Targeting Scams report found Aussies lost $851 million to scams during COVID-19. Source: ACCC

“Last year, scam victims reported the biggest losses we have seen, but worse, we expect the real losses will be even higher, as many people don’t report these scams,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

“Unfortunately, scammers continue to become more sophisticated and last year used the Covid-19 pandemic to scam and take advantage of people from all walks of life during this crisis,” he said.

Investment scams were the biggest offenders, costing Aussies $328 million, followed by romance scams, payment redirection, health and medical, shopping and phishing scams – with over 44,000 reported cases.

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