Is this 'Tesco' voucher giveaway a scam?

My email has been "specially selected" for this prize.

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This article was written by Tony Levene for

I shop at Tesco, far from exclusively but quite often. I also shop at Argos and Curry's-PC World, obviously less often than the supermarket. I receive emails from these three retailers telling me of their latest offers.

So far, so unremarkable.

But recently, I've been getting a flood of emails, from a sender who shows in my inbox as either Tesco, Argos or Curry's. Sometimes, there are as many as ten or even fifteen in a day, with Tesco usually leading the field.

And each email promises me that I "have been specially selected to win a voucher" worth £1,000 at the store mentioned.

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The scam emails

The email starts: "Dear tony.levene". That is how my name works for email, but you'd think that even spammers would know to remove the dot in the middle. That's not even mentioning the lower case letters, either.

The email continues:

We have great news! Your email address [which it then gives] was exclusively selected.

Well done – you made it! You have qualified and are therefore among the chosen few entering the final draw for a Tesco voucher at a value of GBP 1,000. [The Argos and Curry's versions substitute those stores for Tesco.]

Enter Here, and confirm your address to begin.

This is an exclusive link.

Registration from this email is only possible until 31.08.2014 at 23:59.

Entries that are not claimed will re-enter the sweepstake.

Good Luck!

Your Voucher-factory

In fact, I have been so "exclusively selected" over the past month that I must have the most exclusive email address in the world.

Clicking on "enter here" or any of the other links in the email brings you to a site where the prize is even better – now it is GBP (obviously the sender does not have a pound sign on their keyboard) 1,000 in cash which, to labour the point, it says I can spend how I want.

It also brings me to the first question – presumably designed to sort out those who are super-qualified from the merely exclusively selected.

I have to answer whether I am a man or a woman. It does not matter what you answer, for the second question "Have you ever bought groceries online?" is identical whatever your gender.

Again, ticking yes or no makes no difference – the third and final question is to select your age from a series of bands – such as 30 to 39 or 50 and over.

Whatever you select, it then gets to work "sending answers" and "analysing results" so that - surprise, surprise - I am then "qualified" and "forwarded to the prize page". Oddly, reading the initial email told me that I was "qualified" so now it appears that I am "qualified" twice over.

I can now "register" free of charge. To do this, I have to give my address, date of birth and phone numbers.

The terms and conditions do not mention how often the £1,000 is given away, although they do say that the same prize stretches across many websites and the winner "will be selected by random computer".

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Who is sending the emails?

This all comes, via an email site in North Carolina, from a UK company called Marketing Punch.

In 2011, the Advertising Standards Authority upheld two complaints against Marketing Punch, trading as OfferX.

The first referred to an email campaign using the heading "OfferX has 300 pounds for Sainsbury's to give away". The ASA said that because OfferX was not named in the main body of the e-mail, the overall impression was that it had been sent by, or on behalf of, Sainsbury's. A second mailing did not state OfferX's name at all.

The ASA also found that the emails breached its code because of a lack of clarity over who sent them. But the watchdog exonerated Marketing Punch of a challenge that the prizes offered in the ads were genuine and as described.

However, I still know little about the prize – even whether it is a voucher or cash, who has ever won and how often it is offered.

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