Update: This is part of a “WebSEO” fake freebie network powered by another freebie site that has Russian ties. More info here.
The second I saw this “Fire & Spice” sample offer this morning, I knew it was fake. It looked exactly like other fakes recently. While for the most part these are harmless, but you never know what people will do with your information so I’m calling this out as a fake sooner than later.
Here is the URL if you want to follow along, however I urge you not to share your information with this website: http://firenspice.com/free-sample/
Let’s dig into why this is likely to be a fake
- If you look up their address, it’s a residential address, the company LLC is a real company however owned by a single person. I contacted this person to confirm if they still run the business. My hunch, the answer is no. Because the domain expired in April 2017 according these historical records. Then it was picked up in July 5th 2017 by a company registered in Cyprus. For those that aren’t aware of the country Cyprus; calling it a criminal safe haven or sketchy is a fair assessment to many. My hunch is that it looks like someone has ‘hijacked’ the identity of this business and now has a ‘free sample’ form collecting information for god knows what. July 2017 was a month a few other fake freebies were registered as well, all within July 5th to July 10th.
- The order form doesn’t work at all or collect payment information, go ahead try it for yourself, you don’t even need to enter any information, just hit “Submit” – now ask yourself, would a real business do that or did the address harvester just decide to focus their efforts on the free sample form? Here is the order URL: http://firenspice.com/order-2/
- The format of the terms is in a European date format, but it’s a US business that has been operating in Texas for over 10 years, well that can be explained I suppose. However, the rest of the “terms” are disturbingly similar to this fake freebie I also called out.
- Another thing that is hard to explain, is that the old owner could spell “peppers” properly according to this newsletter I found from 2011, a period when the firenspice.com website was registered within the United States. How interesting that the current website suddenly lost all sense of how to spell “peppers” and has “pappers” everywhere. Maybe it’s a new trend in food I’m not aware of.
- If you sign up for the free sample form, it say to expect “measuring tape” – this makes it seem like it’s connected to a fake measuring tape offer, and there are a few fake measuring tape samples out there. The disconnect alone from “pappers” to “measuring tape” shows that this person trying to gather your information is simply lazy or doesn’t know English well enough perhaps.
- Last point to drive it call home, if you view the source of the website, you’ll notice it has Yandex.ru website tracking. That is a Russian company. If that isn’t a red flag, just look at the pornography (don’t actually look, it’s not pleasant and for 18+ years of age) that was hosted on the site in 2016 according to archive.org. Yup. Straight up porn.
- 8/15/17 Update: It also has advertising on it now since my last update. That’s always a bad sign too folks. The scammer makes money upfront and never gives out the sample. Pretty easy scam. The ads are also the same ID as the ads on the InTur fake freebie site too if you look at the source code of the websites.
- 9/29/17 Update: It appears there is an account by the name of “webSEO” on it (link: http://firenspice.com/author/webseo/). Other similair fake freebies had this or the same advertising ID which ties all these fakes together. So my conclusion is that these sites are likely just being built to make money ads and “rank” in Google which is what the practice of SEO (search engine optimization) focused on. More info on the “WebSEO” fake freebie network here. In a sense it’s good news because the intentions don’t appear to be very malicious but it’s still an almost zero chance of getting the freebie and a high chance of getting email spam.
I think you can safely say this is fake. Avoid it. If you signed up for this one, worst case is you’ll get some spam mail, spam email and perhaps some sketchy links from fake PayPal/Amazon/other websites. Don’t trust links that ask for your password or any personal information, ever. Thank you for reading my fake freebie rant.
-John ‘Samples’ Clark