The WhatsApp scam is made all the more plausible by rival breweries launching their own Covid-19 campaigns. For instance, Budweiser recently opened a £1m gift card scheme for locked out guzzlers to pre-purchase drinks before pubs can re-open their doors, while this week Carlsberg has unveiled its “Adopt a Keg” initiative which gives drinkers the chance to earn post-lockdown pints.
The Heineken message instructs users to click on a link to get free beer. The link then opens a website which asks them to fill out a one-minute survey on their drinking habits to determine whether they will receive the prize.
Heineken has issued a statement, warning people that in some cases personal names of its officers and the company’s logo are “copied and used for these purposes to give the impression that it is genuine”.
The firm added: “We have become aware that the Heineken Company, the Heineken brand name and logo, as well as personal names of officers, are being fraudulently used for activities in which we are are not involved whatsoever.
“We strongly recommend that you do not open any documents attached to those communications, and that you do not respond in any way to such communications received, hence do not give any personal information or bank details.”
Which? head of money Gareth Shaw said that the coronavirus outbreak has created the perfect storm for scams, with fraudsters using callous tactics to exploit people’s fears and vulnerability for their own financial gain.
He added: “As new scams spring up daily, our alert service aims to help people protect themselves and their loved ones. Everyone should be extra cautious about clicking on links in any unsolicited emails and texts or answering calls.”
Earlier this month, the Financial Conduct Authority revealed plans for a major ad campaign to warn consumers over a new explosion of scams and dodgy marketing tactics, as rogue businesses look to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to make a financial killing.