Scam alert! Ernest Chemist is not giving out 30th-anniversary freebies

A 30th-anniversary promotional link supposedly from Ernest Chemist Limited (ECL) surfaced on WhatsApp this week and has gained significant attention.

The promotion, which includes all the trademarks of the well-known pharmaceutical company, encourages the public to click on a link to receive anniversary gifts from the company.

However, upon clicking, one is greeted with instructions.

“Congratulations! You have a chance to win a gift. Please click the Claim Gift gift button to continue,” the message that pops up after clicking on the link urges the public to take further action.

After clicking on this, the message reads, “Ernest Chemists Limited- 30th-anniversary medical subsidy. Through the questionnaire, you will have a chance to get 500 Cedi.”

The user is then asked to answer four questions, the first being “Do you know Ernest Chemist Ltd?”

Underneath this question is a yes/no, and a long list of testimonials with some people claiming they had won prizes.

Fact-Check Ghana’s verifications have shown that the promotion is fake.

The URL of the link looks suspicious and doesn’t match the official website of the company. This points to a suspicious case of phishing— a form of cybercrime in which malicious individuals or groups attempt to deceive people into divulging sensitive information, such as passwords, financial details, or personal data.

This is typically done by posing as a trustworthy entity, often through emails, messages, or websites that closely resemble legitimate sources.

The aim is to trick recipients into taking certain actions, such as clicking on links, downloading attachments, or entering information on fake websites. Once the information is obtained, cybercriminals can use it for various fraudulent purposes, including identity theft, financial scams, or unauthorized access to accounts.

It’s a scam

When Fact-Check Ghana contacted Ernest Chemist Limited, its Marketing and Corporate Communications Manager, Clement Atagra, said the company was not doing any such promotion.

 “As we speak, we’re finalising a statement to post on our social media platforms on the issue. It is a scam. We celebrated our 30th anniversary almost 10 years ago,” he said.

ECL is a wholly-Ghanaian-owned company, founded by Ernest Bediako Sampong, a pharmacist by profession, in 1986.

How to protect yourself against phishing

Fact-check Ghana advises the public to take the following actions when they receive similar promotional links.

Verify the Source: Check if the message is coming from an official and verified channel of the pharmaceutical company. Scammers often create fake profiles that resemble legitimate companies to trick people.

Check the URL: Before clicking on any links, hover your cursor over them to see the actual URL. If the URL looks suspicious or doesn’t match the official website of the company, avoid clicking on it.

Avoid providing personal information: Legitimate companies usually don’t ask for sensitive information through unsolicited messages. Be wary of any requests for personal or financial information.

Look for typos and grammar mistakes: Many scams contain spelling errors and poor grammar. If the message seems poorly written, it’s a red flag.

Search for news or alerts: If the company is indeed celebrating its anniversary, there might be official announcements or news articles about the promotion. Search online to confirm the authenticity of the promotion.

Use Official Channels: If you’re interested in the promotion, visit the official website of the company directly rather than clicking on links from unsolicited messages.

Install Security Software: Make sure your device has up-to-date security software that can help detect and prevent malicious activities.

Report Suspicious Messages: If you believe you’ve received a suspicious message, report it to the Cyber Security Authority or the platform through which you received the message.

Remember that scammers often take advantage of events and promotions to exploit unsuspecting individuals. It’s always better to be cautious and verify the legitimacy of any offers before taking any action.

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