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Beware of potential Christmas scams

The Christmas season is upon us, and so are the Grinches that accompany it.

Although a number of people are out looking for the latest deals on gadgets that Apple and others may offer, scammers are in no doubt interested in capitalizing on the increased interest in purchases and promotions.

E-mail scams and other attempts to coerce people into giving up personal information online is nothing new, however, scammers may make extra effort to use Apple's popularity.

Scam e-mail letter
Scams like this one might find themselves into your mailbox. Be aware and avoid any offers that are too good to be true. Screenshot by Topher Kessler

Recently, MacFixIt reader Martin F. wrote in about a scam e-mail he received regarding an Apple promotion, which, while obvious to many people as a scam, might be enough for others to fall for it.

The e-mail claims it is from Apple Christmas Awards, and mentions that the recipient is a promotions winner. The e-mail is from an account at "," which would be the first sign it is not an official Apple e-mail. Additionally, the e-mail asks you to open an attachment, which is a Microsoft Word document.

While the document does not appear to have any malware associated with it, its content is quite obviously a scam. Underneath a large Apple logo, it claims that Apple has created a million iPhone 4S units in commemoration of Steve Jobs, and that winners were selected at random to both receive the phone and an award of around $2 million, from a pool of $250 million that Apple has set aside for this "promotion."

This scam is so poorly done it is almost amusing, but it does serve as a reminder that you may receive such offers and scams both via e-mail and other options throughought this holiday season, some of which might appear to be legitimate offers and promotions. Many of these will likely include malware, but even if they don't, they are designed only to steal your personal information.

Any legitimate offer from a company will have an official Web page at the company's Web site, which you can visit or call to get information on. Ensure you always visit or call the company to confirm the legitimacy of a promotion before accepting it, and never blindly give your information to anyone via e-mail.

And as always, to all the Grinches out there, "You're a three-decker saurkraut and toadstool sandwich, with arsenic sauce!"

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