Free iPhone Xs & Other Release Scams You Should Know About

Certain things in life are constant. Shaky video connections disrupting important meetings, arguments over the office AC and scammers taking advantage of popular product releases.

The iPhone Xs is rumored to be released on the 12th of September in Apples very own Steve Jobs theater. Much as with the iPhone 8 we have already removed a fair share of ads where scammers claim to have an iPhone Xs for sale.

Each year, E-commerce fraud spikes higher than the last. In 2016, some 15.4 million consumers were victims of identity theft or fraud, which is up 16% from 2015.

There are a handful of ways scammers are slipping past online marketplaces and luring excited consumers anxiously waiting for any signs of an “early” Apple product release.

Protect the credibility of your site and your consumers from falling victim to online scams by training your eyes to moderate fraudulent content with these expert tips below.

Tweet This: For every 1,000 ECOM transactions, there are 27 fraud attacks. Effects on the iPhone Xs release:

There are two main ways the scammers are tricking people:

1. Fake Phones on Your Marketplace

This scam is very simple. The scammer posts an ad for an iPhone Xs, but instead of sending the actual iPhone Xs they will send a counterfeit. This can start a whole avalanche of customer support tickets and claim processes. No matter how you handle issues like this as a site, it is costly both in monetary terms and in a deteriorated user experience.

2. Promise of Early Access to or Free iPhone Xs

Many of us are eager to be seen with the latest tech and when a high profile brand like Apple announces a release, the rush to lay ones hands on that new gadget is real. Scammers take advantage of this eagerness by offering the iPhone Xs for sale. In some cases, the scam ads are clearly offering a pre-order. In most cases it doesn’t, giving people the impression that they will receive a new iPhone Xs immediately.  The scammers are banking on early adapters willing to do anything to get the phone before their friends, or on potential buyers being oblivious to the fact that the iPhone Xs hasn’t actually been released yet.

As an online marketplace host, always be on the lookout for ads with the following warning signs including:

  • Products have been “pre-ordered” from Apple
  • In attempt to avoid content moderation filters, alternate titles for the product will include, but not be limited to variations of: iPhone ten s, iPh0ne Xs, and iPhone ____Xs.
  • Shipping is offered throughout the entire country
  • All accessories are included with the warranty
  • Sealed and never opened before
  • Multiple, stock looking pictures

Consider all of these phrases and “special inside offers” as fraudulent. When you spot them, remove the vendor from your marketplace to avoid any unsafe interactions between the fake seller and your consumers.

Taking this crucial step now avoids costly support tickets submitted by consumers for poor interaction with fake advertisements. To prevent this from happening altogether, implement a content moderation method that allows you to accept, edit, and deny all new incoming ads to your marketplace, otherwise known as pre-moderation.

Pre-moderation gives online marketplaces the control to evaluate each vendor they accept or deny requesting ad rights. This also trains you and your teams to spot scammer trends. New moderation challenges pop up all the time as scammers adapt and evolve their manipulative tactics.

Ask us how you can implement a pre-moderation strategy into your process.  

There Are Several Paths the Scam Can Take.

  1. The seller will send an iPhone Xs to the buyer after it has been officially released, but at a markup price compared to store prices. All enquiries about the purchased phone prior to the real release will be met with silence or excuses about lost or delayed packages.
  2. The seller requests a deposit to reserve a phone for the buyer. The really gutsy ones ask for the full price of the phone ahead of time. When the money is sent, the seller disappears.
  3. Potential buyers are asked to submit their personal details to be guaranteed a phone on the release date (or even ahead of time). The amount of personal details requested can range from just a name or an email address, to very specific and sensitive data. What never changes is that once the data is submitted the scammer will turn around and sell it. In the best cases the data of the potential iPhone buyer ends up on lists used by spammers, in the worst case their personal data is used for more nefarious purposes like identity fraud or further more targeted scam attempts. There is also a variant of this scam where the scammer advertises that they need people to test the new iPhone Xs and that they will be allowed to keep it after the test period. Or they post about free iPhone Xs giveaways. These are all schemes to harvest personal details.

 

Taking Charge of Your Marketplace Safety

Online Marketplaces are at extremely high-risk right now. Even with internally trained moderation teams, there are simply too many scammers crawling for opportunities to steal consumer data for banking information, identify theft, or to sell to other spammers causing even deeper issues later on. Now is a great time to consider automated moderation to take care of all the heavy lifting in avoiding all fraudulent iPhone Xs ads.

Read more about how to train your teams for high-traffic online fraudulent behavior!

An extra precaution to consider is to give your consumers the power to voice their experiences with vendors in your marketplace with reactive moderation. You’ve probably seen this among popular marketplaces as a way for consumers to be interactive with their experience:

Reactive Moderation:

The method which relies on users flagging and reporting content on your site. This is integrated with “report” buttons on your site in the form of consumer support tickets. This is a powerful and popular method, but is advised by moderation experts to be used as a supplementary tool in addition to other methods.

Pros of Reactive Moderation:

  • Cost-effective
  • Gives consumers the ability to report a vendor they believe to be illegitimate or in question

Cons of Reactive Moderation:

  • Lack of moderation control by the site owners
  • Decreased user trust
  • Strictly user focused

Additional Best Practices for Keeping Users Safe from iPhone Release Scams

First of all, always keep an eye on trends, not just within your industry, but in general. Remember when the Pokémon Go craze began? That also had scammers out in force.

Keeping up to date with global events and popular culture will help you predict what scammers will be targeting next. That in turn will help you put processes and policies in place ahead of time. Are you for instance keeping an eye out for World of Warcraft accounts and gold sales on your site?

Secondly make sure your moderators and automated rules know what to look for. Ongoing training is invaluable if you want to empower your team to win the fight against scammers.

Thirdly, just being on the lookout for iPhone Xs scams is not enough. When you identify a popular item, trend or event that scammers are likely to try and capitalize on, you need to think about all the elements surrounding that trend. When a new iPhone Xs is released there will likely also be an increase in ads for jailbreaking services and phone unlocks.

Read more about keeping your marketplace safe during high-traffic times, like the holiday seasons!

Jailbreaking Services 

Jailbreaking a phone allows the use of unofficial apps and software on the phone. This means that a user with a jailbroken phone can install cracked software. That is also called piracy and in most cases it is illegal. It is a dangerous practice for the user as well as it makes it easier for the phone to get infected with malicious software.

Jailbreaking ads can be a scam or even a way to get access to the targeted phone through malicious software.  But even if the provider delivers what they promise, it is not a service you want on your site or app due to the fuzzy legality and obvious immorality surrounding it.

Phone Unlocking

Unlocking your phone allows the use of sim cards from other providers than the one the phone was originally contracted to when purchased. In most countries you can contact your phone carrier to get your phone unlocked once the contractual term is up. As such, offering unlocking services seems unnecessary unless someone is trying to sneak out of a binding contract. Your moderators should look out for and disallow Turbosims or similar products used for this purpose.

Why Care about iPhone Xs Scams?

Popular product releases are likely to drive traffic to your site or app and some of the traffic will be first time users. We don’t need to tell you how important it is to ensure a good first time experience when trying to convert new visitors to regular users.

Reported scams and fraudulent activity on your marketplace can directly effect your site credibility, user experience, and overall brand. Apple’s notorious annual roll-out with new products, specifically iPhones, are times for online marketplaces to step up their moderation awareness for the protection of users and credibility.

Every day we come across and remove mobile phone scams from the sites that we help to protect. Mobile phones are a popular target for scammers and you need to be one step ahead of them to ensure the safety of your users as well as the quality of your site and app.

Every month there are exciting new product releases or events for scammers to exploit, surprise scammers with your knowledge of these by reading our scam awareness calendar.

Ready to create a safe online marketplace for your users? Chat with the Besedo content moderation team to get started on our free trial!

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