Warning over 'free money' scam that offers £50 cash to sign up to website (2024)

People have been warned after a giveaway that offers ‘£50 cash’ for sign ups is allegedly selling their information to advertisers.

Chinese budget giant Temu has promised users the cash in a flashy sign up offer, where people can claim a combination of PayPal money and gift vouchers.

In recent days, social media sites X and Instagram have seen people begging other users to click on a mystery link, so they can earn the ‘free money’.

However, not everyone has been as quick to hop on the trend, with users questioning the legitimacy of the scheme.

One person posted: ‘This temu stuff feels like the biggest scam ever im sorry. give it a few weeks before everyone is freaking out bcus they’ve wiped your banks/paypals clean.’

What is Temu?

Temu is an online marketplace that promises buyers they can ‘shop like a billionaire’, where users can save around 80% per purchase.

The business model of the app works almost like a game, with customers earning ‘credits’ they can redeem on their next purchase.

Temu uses a mixture of aggressive social media advertising, referral offers, and regular ‘clearance’ sales to entice customers.

The app is dominating global markets as the most downloaded in the UK, and with 100 million US users.

However little information about the company is available online.

PDD Holdings is the parent company of Temu, which is the overseas version of the brand.

The Financial Times reports that PDD Holdings has ‘a great deal of secretiveness around how it runs’.

What is the free money referral scheme? Is it real?

Temu is currently running a promotion offering both PayPal credit and in-store vouchers in exchange for new members signing up.

Existing customers are told to invite up to 20 new people to join the app, earning between 1p and £1 per user who joins using their personalised invitation link.

You need to hit the £100 threshold to claim a reward, meaning social media has been inundated with these links thanks to Temu users hoping to garner a few more clicks and reach the threshold.

But social media users are concerned the giveaway is too good to be true.

The competition’s own terms state that those who take part in the contest surrender a large amount of personal information in doing so – just as the UK and US identified China as the source of a wave of cyberattacks on public figures and institutions.

The app contains what it says are reviews from winners who have claimed the free money – but they’ve been anonymised and are therefore difficult to verify.

So unless we start seeing verifiable accounts of people who have successfully claimed the cash, it’s not possible to be sure if the scheme is real.

Is it a data scam?

Pinduoduo, another app by parent company PDD Holdings, was removed by Google from its app store, as it contained malware, The Times reports.

The app has been accused of unreliable service and data misuse, while US lawmakers say there’s an ‘extremely high risk’ some products are made using forced labour.

Grizzly Research, which compiles reports about large companies, has accused the retailer of concealing malware and spyware within its app. They say this could ‘potentially give bad actors full access to almost all data on customers’ mobile devices’.

The rules in the ‘Cash Reward’ promotion state users agree to give Temu permission to use their ‘photo, name likeness, voice, opinions, statements, biographical information, and/or hometown and state’ worldwide – which is a lot of personal data to give away.

Temu’s privacy policy says it can share personal information with third parties such as advertisers. The site insists that it does not ‘sell’ user data – but admits that in some countries, the sharing of data is considered ‘selling’.

A spokesperson for Temu told Metro.co.uk: ‘Temu gathers user information solely for the purpose of delivering our service and to enhance customer experience. We do not sell user information.

‘The terms and conditions highlighted are commonplace in similar promotions held by various companies.’

The spokesperson then listed a number of other companies with comparable terms and conditions, including McDonald’s and Subway.

Regarding the outcome of the Grizzly Research report, the spokesperson added: ‘The allegations in the report are totally baseless and issued by a small short-selling firm with a poor track record.

‘The report was published with the intent to create panic and to drive down stock prices, enabling the firm to profit from short-selling decisions.

‘Their motives and the unusual actions are quite apparent. We are encouraged to see that most investors and consumers understood the underlying motives and saw through the groundless accusations.

‘The share price of Temu’s parent company, PDD Holdings, has risen more than 40% since the publication of the report in early September.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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Warning over 'free money' scam that offers £50 cash to sign up to website (2024)


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