Fraudulent offers and products are expected parasites on the body of the free market, particularly accompanying the release of wildly popular goods. When a highly-anticipated box office flick comes out in theaters, a bootleg version is available for download online. When a hot young designer unveils a new handbag, knock-offs immediately pop up on Canal Street.

Apple is not immune to such black-market rituals. Now its awaited iPhone 5 is at the center of such market foolery.

A current scam is circulating concerning the iPhone 5. Here's how it works:

  • Individuals will receive a text message from an unknown number, with a nearby area code (i.e. if you live in New York City, the area code will be 718). The text message reads: Apple is looking for iPhone5 Testers! The first 1000 users that go to http://iphone5tests.com and enter code 7777 will get to Test & Keep the New iPhone5!
  • Once logged onto iphone5tests.com, one will be prompted to enter the four-digit code. The site tempts users with the line, You have been brought to this site because you have been selected to test and keep an iPhone 5.
  • Once the code is entered, a page appears prompting the input of an e-mail address. Then, the site asks for shipping information followed by a survey. After the survey is completed, ads for car insurance and online higher-education programs pop up.
  • The scam is affiliated with ProductGiftRewards.com . The offer hoodwinks individuals into thinking they will get a free iPhone 5, but instead they are barraged with reams of spam and marketing solicitations.
  • Enter into a Google search Product Gift Rewards iPhone 5 scam and you will find multiple user comments on the ruse, as well as links to other fraudulent Web sites.

Do not buy into this scam. Do not enter your personal information to unknown Web sites. The Better Business Bureau reported a surge in texting scams in November. Here is how to avoid such ploys:

  • Do not reply.Replying to a spam text only verifies that your number is active, meaning more messages can be sent.
  • Check with your bank directly.Separate from the text, look up your bank's phone number and contact your bank directly to confirm the status of your accounts.
  • Avoid unknown links.Do not click on any link sent by an unknown party.
  • Block suspicious numbers. If you have received texts from an unknown number, contact your phone provider to block the number the texts are originating from.
  • Do not store personal information on your phone.Avoid storing credit card and account login information in emails or notes on your phone.

This iPhone 5 scam is nothing new. Back in 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle published an article about free iPods (back when iPods were Apple's newest thing). At the time, a group called Incentive Reward Center was offering a free iPod, which sold for $399 at the time.

Incentive Reward Center linked back to Theuseful.com, which was a fictitious business name registered by Florida business entity, NiuTech.

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