Starbucks Hong Kong have clarified that they did not send a Whatsapp message offering US$500 (HK$3,875) Starbucks vouchers to customers upon completion of a survey, calling it a scam.

The message was first received by Hong Kong people in August, and emerged again recently, saying “Take 1 minute survey to get a USD500 Starbucks Voucher!”

“Please be alerted that this is not an official promotion of Starbucks Hong Kong and this is not an offer from Starbucks Hong Kong,” Starbucks said on a Facebook post, “We urge our customers to exercise caution before clicking and sharing their personal information online.”

The scam message seen in Hong Kong. Facebook: Starbucks Hong Kong.

Francis Fong, president of Hong Kong Information Technology Federation, told Headline Daily that clicking the link in the message may infect Android or iOS devices with Trojan Horse viruses, and personal information on Whatsapp will be leaked.

Even if the link was safe, there were also risks in filling online surveys, that hackers can access people’s PayPal or Apple accounts using some simple information stolen such as name, phone number and address, Fong added.

He advised people not to be greedy for petty gains, as most scams cheat people’s money from greed, especially when large amounts of money were involved in the message.

The scam message seen in Malaysia. Facebook: Starbucks Malaysia.

A scam message featuring the similar offer of 500 Malaysian Ringgits (HK$904) was widespread in Malaysia in August.

Starbucks Malaysia also clarified that it was not an official promotion by them.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.