Free Starbucks in my email

Q: I just got an email telling me I won a $250 Starbucks gift card. I think I already know the answer but is this email a scam? Even with Starbucks prices I could buy a lot of coffee with $250!

A: I can go you one better. In the past few months, I have not only won a $250 Starbucks gift card but I have also won a free trip to Europe, an iPod Nano, a candlelit dinner for two and a trip to Disneyworld. Fortunately, I didn’t need to bother accepting any of these prizes because a prince from another country that I cannot pronounce has guaranteed my share of his inheritance-roughly $2.4 million-if I can just help him pay the inheritance taxes in his country.

Ok, my point is this. Without even seeing the email you are referring to, I am 99.9% positive it is a scam. In fact, from now on, I would just assume that every email you get like this is a scam as well.

The people that send you these types of unsolicited email really just want to you click a web link or pick up the phone and call them at which point they can try to trick you into giving them money or in the worst case, try to upsell you on some other product or service you probably don’t want or need.

If you are still holding out hope that it is real, ask yourself this question. Did you sign up or enter any contest where the grand prize was a $250 Starbucks gift card? And even if you did, do you think the company would do nothing more than just send an email to the winner?

Unfortunately, email scams are everywhere these days and they can be very difficult to police. So your only choice is to always assume the worst. You’ll be a lot safer in the long run, if a legitimate email slips through rather than face the consequences of responding to one that, for whatever reason, looks legitimate to you. Even if it means spending four of your hard earned dollars for that Starbucks frappuccino.

This post was originally broadcast Friday, September 7, 2007 on Tech Talk with Noobie, a weekly radio show on WCBK 102.3 FM in Martinsville, Indiana. Tech Talk with Noobie airs every Friday between 11:30 a.m. and noon. If you have a question you would like Noobie to answer on the air, simply e-mail your question to [email protected].