Scam Or Not: Free iPods?

from the smells-like-a-duck dept

Most people admit that the idea behind a site promising free iPods if you sign up for trial offerings from various marketers (and convince others to as well) sounds like a scam. However, those who have done it insist it’s no scam at all — but a legitimate marketing practice that gets people to try various products or services in exchange for an iPod. That said, whether it’s a full-out scam or simply a marketing ploy, it’s still sketchy. Anything that requires you to get others to participate before you get your “prize” is going to lead to spam from people trying to get you to sign up so they can get their prize. Furthermore, you’re giving up your info to a marketing company who clearly has incentive to resell it. Their privacy policy (which does not appear to show up in Firefox) admits that they’re going to give your info to “marketing partners.” So, while it may not be a full on scam, it is just like plenty of other marketing programs, where the end result is plenty of spam.

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Comments on “Scam Or Not: Free iPods?”

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Ed says:


(Subject stands for “There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”, in case anybody didn’t already know.)

An iPod is worth a couple hundred dollars, minimum. Therefore, the value of the leads generated in order to qualify for one iPod must be at least $200. Plus some profit; this ain’t no charity, but let’s say $200 as a minimum figure.

Now who in their right mind is paying anywhere more than a small fraction of that for a lead that is essentially unqualified? I checked out one of these “free ipod” threads a few weeks ago, and it looked like a total of 6 referrals was all that was required (typically to AOL or some genealogy web site).

I suspect that they’re giving away only a limited number of these at random, knowing that a few “success stories” posted online will keep thousands of people sending in additional leads.

Apple shipped approx. 800,000 iPods last quarter. Does anybody really believe that this site is in the process of giving away 250,000 free ones, as claimed?

Precision Blogger (user link) says:

It's a ponzi (pyramid) scheme

If you have to get, say, 20 people involved to get your iPod, those people have to get a 400; those people have to get 8000, and soon you need to get every person on the face of the earth signed up so everyone gets a prize.

Schemes like this are illegal in the US, where they are part of the purchase requirement. In the case of a “prize”, I do not know whether there’s a loophole.
– The Precision Blogger

Hexstar (user link) says:

This is most definetly a scam

I’m almost positive this is a scam, not only do they make you sign up for services and give your info out to “marketing partners”, but in their tos they also say they do not garuntee delivery of the ipod, all n all people who really want one should just save up for a ipod and buy one from apple when they get the money, it’s not worth the spam and scam this company provides

Eric says:

Offercentric scam

I have gone back and forth with Offercentric ( for over a month now and I even referred more people like they requested, even though originally my 5 were good. Anyhow they emailed me (read below) and I referred 2 more people who completed offers and then they cancelled my account again. They have a total of 7 good referrals who completed offers, but they are now saying that half are bad. And 4 of these were considered good by them when they reinstated my account saying I need a 6th referral to complete an offer. I know the referrals they are good people. I am more than dismayed at OfferCentric. They received commission on 8 people but now don?t want to fulfill their commitment. They scammed me.

James says:

Re: Offercentric scam

Same here — scammed by mp3players4free. I completed all refferals. All of them went through within about 24 hours. They said my account was disqualified due to fraudulent acitivity. In NO WAY did anything fraudulent take place. The only thing fraudulent is OfferCentric.

There has GOT TO BE A WAY to curb their shady business practices. Any ideas?

August says:

Re: Offercentric scam

I was just scammed by offerntric. They always had some reason not to complete the deal. First, they simply refused to accept a completion eventhough the company insisted to both us and them that we did complete the offer. “Not their problem” is their response. Next – the more people you refer, the worse the offers get. The first offers are around 20 bucks to complete but they go up to 100 or more by the end. Nothing cheaper. Then they say “wait until more offers come” and then they raise the number of offers you need to complete. They will always find a reason to postpone and when they run out – they disqualify you – and keep the reasons confusing and ambigious. They do, however, let enough people get by in order to seem legit. From my resarch on the web though I’m finding many many people who feel scammed. So many that I’m arranging for a major tech magazine and a major online site to run an article about it. I am also starting up a website which will warn people and I hope that anyone who has been scammed will share their stories there. Eventually I’ll be looking for more people as well for the article.

AClarke (user link) says:

No Subject Given

This stuff is not a scam, although they can screw you. I’ve never had any problems after I’ve completed a site, but I’ve been placed on hold on gratis sites with no explination why.

Since I’ve recieved over $5,000 from doing this, I put a site together to help other people. It has a step by step guide on how to get something free, and an FAQ section for the skeptical people. Look in the proof section to see my ipod collection 🙂

The site is

Paul Christodoulou (user link) says:

Gifts for Free


Thanks for the article on these free prize sites. I am what you might call a ‘veteran’ user of these free sites having gotten to date a laptop, an IPod, an IPod Mini, an IPod Shuffle, a flatscreen monitor and a portable XM satellite radio. There is a website called refstop ( ) that is basically a trading forum where users of these sites can trade referrals required to complete these sites (it is feedback driven just like ebay). It’s a great concept and for the most part works pretty well. One thing that myself and other refstop users can tell you is that whatever site you sign up for, make sure you use a junk e-mail address such as hotmail or Yahoo because you’ll get plenty of it. Also, there are sites that are more legitimate than others. Ones you usually find on banner and pop-up ads aren’t the same as the more legitimate ones. The Freepay network is by far the most legitimate of these sites (they are the ones who started the whole Free IPod phenomenon) and can be found at . Just thought I’d put my two cents in.

Paul Christodoulou

Matthew says:

Re: Gifts for Free

Everything he said is true.
I am a Corporate Account Executive for PC Mall.
One of my fellow co-workers is Managing the Gratis Account (The parent company of the Freepay network). Just last month they booked over 450 000$ of various products..
Some sites are bogus but OfferCentric And Gratis Internet are 2 very legit organisations doing very well for themselves…
On another note, should you have the need to purchase some kind of IT product, please do not hesitate contacting me for corporate discounts!!
800-555-6255 x8878
(Shameless Plug)
Mod: If my plug is not permitted on this board please delete only that portion.

Kevin says:

Re: Re: Gifts for Free

Don’t sign up for that so called free ringtone site.When you get your phone bill I guarantee that there will be surcharges placed on your bill by the company offering the free ringtones.I did that once and cancelled it the next day and my phone bill of 70 follars ended up being over 120 .I am in the process of disputing it.

dan says:

Just playing the numbers

They are counting on you not signing up as many friends

as you need to get a free anything.

Think of it like this: You want a free iPod. You join 5 of

the lame offers and then have to refer 20 friends. You

can only get 15 people to join, so you don’t get a free


Those 15 people have the same exact story. And their

friends, etc. Soon its 15 x 15 x 15 … x 15 — the few

people that actually get 20 and get an iPod are not really

a big deal because they make their money back with


My $0.02

August says:

Re: Just playing the numbers

Actually, dan, that’s the decoy.

Generally in con situations (successful ones) there is always the “secret plan” the con artist has which is not hidden from the target. The target feels like they’ve figured out what could go wrong AND that they could probably avoid that by being smarter than everyone else – so they’ve comforted themselves that they’ve done their investigation work and move forward.

This allows the con artist to bring the target into the game which is the hardest part.

Andrew Morgan says:

Many users find that after having successfully signed up their 5 people one of their referrals is placed on hold at the last minute thus rendering all of their efforts useless.

A good way of expressing disapproval at freeipods misleadng “on hold” con is to:

a) make a complaint to the services that you signed up to via freeipods

b) cancel the services that you sign up to, mentioning that freeipods are the reason

PS If you post this comment on 5 blogs I will send you a free ipod.

tom says:

bull crap

i signed up for gratis network, and after i mailed approval form, the last step form getting an ipod, me and all my friends were on hold. anything to stop you from getting a free gift and them gettting money. all those free ipod testimonials are either paid for positive feed back or written by the author site them selves. who are we kidding, nothing is free and i lost $10. my suggestion file complaints to the better business bureu,, to put an end to this.

P.S. there is no way someone could get an ipod, PSP,laptop throughout there lifetime through these sites. and whatever they said. they probably work for the company.

Ed says:

Not crap

I completed the freepay site, sent my approval letter in via the USPS (untrackable), sent a customer service inquiry even telling them that, and submitted my order on Tuesday 8/8/06 after getting verified.

These sites aren’t BS, but it’s incredibly easy to disqualify yourself. Most people who disqualify themselves do it without realizing it. Yes, I got lots of spam, but I used a yahoo address to sign up for it. I’ve yet to get any spam at my home address.

Nowaczek (user link) says:

Scammed by YourGiftsFree

I was scammed by a freebies site within YourGiftsFree Network. I requested a $100 payout but got denied of it cause of “fradulent activity”. Apprently My name does not exist and my address doesnt exist on the face of the Earth.

I opened a support ticket and asked them to explain why I was on hold and what is fradulent activity, they refused to elaborate on it and said “Your Account is on hold indefinitely. Thanks.”

Bottom Line: Screw YourGiftsFree , screw all freebie websites! They are all viral scams as explained by

Jerry says:

I HAVE received money, usually substituted product for Paypal. There are specific guidelines you have to follow. First off, if your referrals cancel their offers right away, they WILL go bad and the site will not credit you. Also, clearing cookies is very important because that is how they track you. All you skeptics who bad-mouth something without following the rules are the ones who DO give these systems a bad name. And yes, there are the occasional bad-apple sites that pack up and leave before their payout. But thats the risk of anything online.

Kelly (user link) says:

Not a scam by any means

Incentive marketing is real and legit. Having been a long time “freebie” goer I also work for an incentive marketing site that provides the offers that people complete. The reason people think it is a scam is because they do not read the TOS, nor do their referrals and many times they break those TOS and their account is placed on hold (indefinately) and they can no longer work toward their prize. I see it everyday.

Someone signs up more than one person per household = fraud, using a proxy = fraud, repeating offers = fraud, making up and using false info = fraud.

The majority of “freebie” sites out there do not sell information. However some offers you sign up for may do so, you have to read each offers TOS as well and their Privacy Policy. There are a few sites out there that are a scam but thats the risk you take. I have received many free gifts and belong to 4 freebie communities (,,,

Incentive marketing works like this. A company gets some offers from a larger company offering them. They provide those offers to their users, you. You in turn must complete your requirements (offers) and sometimes refer friends to do the same. In turn the larger company pays them money and they use some of that money to buy you an item and send it to you. It may appear to be a pyramid scheme but it is not, it’s just a new form of advertisiing.

I have read many comments here that do make me mad. The pressumptions passed around here are obviously people who have no knowledge or experience in the incentive marketing business.

scam-busters says:

not a scam

most of these are not scams but require
you to register then sign up to free trials
which the companies pay to advertise
(usuallyfor each signup they receve) then you have to refer 6 people (who also have to sign up for offers)then they refer 6 more who sign up
and so it continues also the free ipods are usualy ex-stock which are
sold to them under bulk buy for less (so they also save money that way)
add to that the fact that they sell your email address(and probably your shipping address!) in effect they are rakeing it in. for these offers its usualy best to buy a pobox address and use a disposable email. to safeguard your data as they WILL sell it to marketing companies.

scam-busters says:

not a scam

most of these are not scams but require
you to register then sign up to free trials
which the companies pay to advertise
(usuallyfor each signup they receve) then you have to refer 6 people (who also have to sign up for offers)then they refer 6 more who sign up
and so it continues also the free ipods are usualy ex-stock which are
sold to them under bulk buy for less (so they also save money that way)
add to that the fact that they sell your email address(and probably your shipping address!) in effect they are rakeing it in. for these offers its usualy best to buy a pobox address and use a disposable email. to safeguard your data as they WILL sell it to marketing companies.

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