Estimated time to read: 3 Minutes
Would you like to get a free code for the PSN? Maybe for Amazon? Google Play? Itunes?
Every month millions of people from all over the world are searching for “free […] codes”, “free […] gift cards”. Just the single query “free PSN codes” gets around a 100k of searches a month, according to kwfinder.com.
But what will they find? At the moment, writing this article – mostly scam websites.
The free code generator scam or also known as the free gift card scam, has two general versions.
1. The Website generator.
2. The Downloadable generator.
The first is the popular and widespread version. About 90% of all free code generators are purely website based and not downloadable.
It is easier to create a website than to write a program and the website is less likely to be flagged as malware.
However, the second version is still used and often advertised on Youtube or on other video platforms, since it’s way easier to just upload a video with a short link to the download link than to create a whole new website each time after it got flagged as a malware distribution site.
If a user downloads one of these “generators”, he will most likely end up with ad-and/or malware on his device – if he does not have a good program against viruses and malware.
Ignoring the possible ad-and malware, both versions of the scam try to persuade the user to do a “human verification”. We know what a human verification is, especially after Google introduced the Google Captcha.
However, the scammers don’t implement the Google Captcha as their human verification. Instead, they use fake surveys.
Quick info: Fake surveys usually have the intention of tricking the users into a paid subscription or gathering sensitive personal information.
So we now know that free code generator scammers want to persuade the users to do fake surveys. Now we want to find out how they do it.
Since ~90% of this scam is website based, we will focus solely on the first version.
We will go through the whole process of getting “free PSN codes” and we will point out how the scammer tries to persuade the users into doing the fake surveys.
Note: The process does not vary much from one scam website to another. They usually have the same structure, only the design and the choice of words differ.
Let’s start by entering “free PSN Codes” into Google(US).
9 of the 10 first results are using or are in connection to this type of scam.
We associate scams often with bad design. Why is that? Scammers usually don’t put much effort into design, because:
1. Good design takes time and effort, and if done professionally – money
2. The scammer has to develop a ‘new’ design each time he gets flagged.
So how do Free Code Generator websites look? Take a look here:
You will notice that the landing pages of free code generators follow some kind of template.
1. A “generate” button, with psn-related pics/animations in the background. Take in mind that free code generators are mostly directed towards kids and teenagers.
The use of videos, icons, hover animations and such has the intention to make them “play” with the site. Example: don’t you like to repetitively go with your cursor over smooth or interesting icon animations – just to see the animation again?
2. The site has 3 to 4 icons with text underneath it, which “explain” how the generator works.
3. The rest of the page contains long text chunks in a small font size. The whole page usually contains 1.000 to 1.500 words ~80% of it is unnecessary information.
-Why do they show unnecessary text?
That is called SEO manipulation. Adding text with certain keywords in it signals Google and other search engines that this page is about keyword X- in our example “free psn codes”. So the scammers add text and include the keywords in it so Google ranks this page for those keywords.
4. Fake testimonials. Used in almost every scam, not only the free code generator scam.
We will click on the “generate” button. If we did not already had to choose the type of code(e.g 10$ PSN Code) we will get to do it now.
After our decision, we click “next” and we will usually be asked to sha