Google Ads accidentally approved a top advertisement display on its search engine results about a Target Gift Card scam that a Redditor caught and posted on the platform.
The scam involves a phishing website that seems like the real deal, and not properly checking the URL and other details on the page may lead to the access of one's account.
Most of us check our gift card balances online (because who actually keeps those receipts that tell us how much money we have left on them?), making an apparent oversight by Google all the worse.
However, the gift card number and security passcode are taken to another website, where the phishing scam gets most of its victims. Additionally, the URL is another indicator that it is fake, as it displays "bristolhirevan" and not Target's.
Only, the site isn’t Target — it’s actually a site called “bristolhirevan.” The ad’s description says it will let you check your gift card balance “immediately,” and that it also offers “all van sizes to fit your needs” — how can you get more legit than that? My colleague Sean Hollister and I found the same phony ad when searching for the exact phrase ourselves.
Okay, while the name of the site doesn’t sound convincing at all, its interface sure looks like the real thing, although the actual Target site requires you to sign in to check your gift card balance, while this fake site doesn’t. Besides that, the only things that are off about the webpage are the URL, which still has the “bristolhirevan” domain and the fact that every single link on the page leads to the real Target homepage, despite promising to link to a weekly ad or a gift registry.
The Redditor said that people should be wary of putting in detail before entering the code and signing in, especially as it may link to other information that might be stolen.
As pointed out by the FTC, gift card scams often take place over the phone, with the scammer pretending to be an employee of a company like Google or Amazon (or even someone from a federal agency) who demands the victim make a payment in the form of a gift card. However, fake balance checker sites like these often hide in plain sight — apparently even as ads on Google.
A 2020 report from Bleeping Computer draws attention to sites that impersonate Target gift card balance checker pages, noting that Target is actually one of the most popular sites for scammers to replicate. The Verge reached out to Google with a request for comment about how this scam may have slipped through its ad review process, and if it will be removed, but didn’t immediately hear back.
Beware of this Target Gift Card Scam Phishing Website--
Google Ads approved this and was on display atop their page, meaning that it was one of the most prominent ones that purchased its service to display in the search results.
As to how it got past Google's verification and security remains unknown, people should be practicing caution as to whatever is put on the ads and results, even from the famous internet company.
Phishing, Scams Found on the Internet Now-
Many phishing scams are now found on the internet, and they may seem like the real deal of what they are trying to become, but always be wary of the indicators that show it is a fake. The scams are now plaguing the Google landscape that involves Docs, Gmail, and more, especially when features like the Comment in the document send malicious emails.
No one is safe on the internet, and it is up to the public to protect themselves and fend off the attacks as they might come in randomly or a targeted campaign without any warnings. Phishing scams are also apparent on social media platforms like WhatsApp, Messenger, and more.
These scams may lead from account access down to personal information theft and bank details that also steal money from the owner.
Online safety is something that people should practice, and this is something that the Redditor that discovered the fake gift card website has shown in the forum.
Be sure to always check the website before putting in any details, and it may be helpful to check the URL and its security that comes with a green check on web browsers.