Starbucks coronavirus scam going viral on social media: Don't click this

Starbucks coronavirus scam
(Image credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Coronavirus scams are flooding the internet from every alley, and the latest one might land in a text message from a friend. If you've been asked to click on a link to help your pal get a $100 gift card from Starbucks, don't.

The link reads, "To Apoligize for Closing Stores. Get a $100 Starbucks Card On Us." An image of a poorly-photoshopped coupon accompanies the atrocious grammar and misspelled 'apologize,' yet some people seem to believe there's complimentary coffee cards up for grabs amid a global pandemic.

In fact I had several friends send me the link, asking me to support their chances at a dozen or so free macchiatos. At a first glance I thought, 'sure, as long as you treat me to one!' but soon realized the link is totally bogus. 

This is what the Starbucks coronavirus scam text looks like. I have half a dozen more in my messages I could show you.

This is what the Starbucks coronavirus scam text looks like. I have half a dozen more in my messages I could show you. (Image credit: Future)

When you click the link, it takes you to an amateur site once again promising a a $100 Starbucks card. 

"During these uncertain times we appreciate your understanding. To sweeten things up get a $100 gift card from us," it reads, except there's no information about who 'us' is, nor what terms apply.

The site then generates a link you can send to your friends. The page allegedly keeps track of how many people have clicked your custom link, and the more you tally the better chance you have a gift card. 

I checked with a few friends and learned this is scam is spreading fast among texting and social media. It's popular in particular with people in their late teens and early 20s, and is circulating rapidly on Twitter and within class-wide university group chats.

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There's no tell as to what this lure's purpose is, but we can assume it's not a good one and hope that Starbucks is able to get ahead of this shady social distancing ploy.

Bad actors are capitalizing on coronavirus fears, and while the government has prioritized cracking down on coronavirus scammers, there are a number of coronavirus malware emails in circulation.

Given the surge of such suspicious activity, we created a created a guide with coronavirus scam advice to keep yourself and your data safe from crooks.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.