Everyone loves a giveaway, be it in real life or online. But the latter form can be used by cybercriminals to con victims, sometimes via giveaway bots. So, what exactly is a giveaway bot, how does it work, and how can you avoid this kind of scam?
What Is a Giveaway Bot?
A giveaway bot is a kind of computer program that can facilitate giveaways on behalf of influencers and companies. In and of themselves, giveaway bots are not dangerous. It’s the way in which malicious actors leverage them that poses a risk to users.
Legitimate individuals and organizations can use this kind of bot on Discord to provide their fans and followers with fun giveaways. Discord is a social media platform that is particularly popular among gamers, crypto enthusiasts, and other people who share a common interest. As found by Statista, Discord is mostly used by 16 to 24-year-olds, but welcomes all users who are 13 or older.
Online influencers and companies often have their own Discord server, wherein fans can interact with each other, get updates, and take part in competitions and giveaways.
But hosting a giveaway can be a little stressful, especially if you’re dealing with a huge number of entries or simply don’t have the time to monitor and complete the event. Enter giveaway bots. These programs can quickly and automatically carry out giveaways for you within your Discord server. Using a giveaway bot, you can host a giveaway, keep track of entries, and have a winner randomly selected so that the outcome is fair and impartial.
Giveaway bots can be used for numerous platforms, but are most common on Discord, so we’ll focus on this social media outlet here.
Malicious Giveaway Bots
There are various kinds of Discord giveaway bots out there today, many of which offer users a legitimate service. But some bots are engineered to con victims out of data or money.
This is because bots make it that much easier for a cybercriminal to execute scams. Without having to manually carry out each step of the swindle, cybercriminals can cast a wider net and target a higher number of potential victims. You may have heard of bots being used in other malicious ventures, such as botnets in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
A common example of a Discord giveaway scam is one that tempts users with the lure of free Nitro. Nitro is a kind of paid membership on Discord that you can subscribe to for additional perks, such as custom emojis and tags, larger file uploads, and high-resolution screen sharing.
Of course, nobody likes paying for something they can get for free, and scammers know this, which is why malicious Nitro giveaway bots exist. Nitro gifting can be conducted on Discord, but scam bots offering Nitro are just as common. So, if you receive a message from a bot offering you Nitro, chances are you’re dealing with a scammer.
So, how can you spot and steer clear of giveaway bot scams?
Avoiding Giveaway Bot Scams
Avoiding giveaway bot scams involves a key measure: caution. On all social media platforms, scammers are looking for unsuspecting users to swindle, and it sometimes just takes a moment of weakness to fall victim. But what does this kind of scam even look like? What are the warning signs?
Below is an example of a Discord Nitro giveaway scam, taken from a Discord Support page regarding malicious bots.
As you can see, the sender seems to be a verified bot (as indicated by the blue symbol next to the account name) and is claiming that the recipient has been gifted a year of free Discord Nitro. Attached to the message is a link to the alleged claim page, but links are a huge red flag when it comes to messages from new senders.
This is because links are commonly used in phishing scams to steal data from victims. Such links will lead to a webpage that seems legitimate but is, in fact, designed to steal the data you input. For example, if the giveaway page asks you to log into Discord to claim your prize, your credentials could be logged as soon as they’re entered, giving the malicious operator access to your account.
Another user on the aforementioned Discord support forum shared a screenshot of a message from a giveaway bot, in which they were asked to click on the provided link, and then head to their mail inbox to redeem the Nitro code.
As you can see above, the bot is once again shown as verified, but this does not indicate legitimacy. You may have also noticed that the grammar in the message is slightly off, which can also often indicate a scam.
You should also make a number of additional considerations before clicking on any link provided to you in Discord, or any social media outlet, for that matter.
Say, for example, you receive a message from a Discord user offering you free Nitro. Before clicking on the provided link, think about the reality of the situation. What is the likelihood of a random Discord user choosing you for this free Nitro? Did you just get very lucky, or are you being targeted by a scammer? Much of the time, offers like this are just too good to be true.
You should also take the user who sent you the message into account. Though the sender will likely be tagged as a bot, is it a company or influencer you follow? Are you friends with them on Discord? If the sender is entirely unknown, and you have never interacted with them before, it’s best to avoid contact.
However, sometimes hackers will compromise legitimate accounts and then create a giveaway bot to scam users. Hiding behind a well-known name gives the attacker an air of faux trustworthiness, making it that much easier to trick victims into interacting with the phony giveaway.
As mentioned earlier, you should also look out for spelling and grammatical errors in the bot messages you receive. Most legitimate senders will ensure that their messages are written correctly, while cybercriminals are sometimes a little sloppier.
You could also consider running any provided links through a link-checking website to determine whether you’re dealing with a malicious site. This can often act as a first line of defense against phishing scams that use phony websites.
Giveaway Bot Scams Put Your Data at Risk
While giveaways are often used by influencers and companies to attract and engage with audiences, they are also often used as a lure for unsuspecting victims. Giveaway bots simply make this process easier for cybercriminals, so it’s important to be aware of scam bot warning signs to protect yourself and your data.