So the headline pretty much sums up my thoughts here. After digging into their website this week, I believe Samplesso[.]com is a scam site that only intends to harvest our information in order to resell it.
I recently posted my findings to Reddit, but I wanted to repost them here with a bit more elaboration.
Before I get started, I have a question – has any Hiffer actually received one of freebies listed below over the past two months?! Since January 2024, Samplesso has posted links supposedly offering:
- Tiffany & Co Rose Gold eau de Parfum Intense
Many freebie sites posted this around January 4, so it's been almost two months since people started requesting it and should have arrived by now.
- Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes! Mascara
- Lancome Clarifique Dual Face Essence
- Banila Co 3-in-1 Clean it Zero Cleansing Balm
- Guerlain Aqau Allegoria Granada Salvia eau de Parfum
I'll be honest here too – I initially fell for their scam! I posted both the Charlotte Tilbury mascara and the Lancome Clarifique on January 22, 2024. It wasn't until I went to post the Banila offer this week that I squinted at my laptop and took a beat. Something just seemed off, so I began digging.
Why I Think Samplesso Contains Fake Freebies
I've been running HIF and vetting freebies for 20 years now. This company has a lot of 🚩 that have my Freebie Senses tingling.
- The company is brand new – the domain was registered on 2023-12-31, making it only only 54 days old, as of today.
- Meanwhile their About Us page says they were “founded in 2021.”
- The footer of their website has a typo that reads: “Sampleoo: Redefining discovery with curated free samples, connecting brands and consumers in a journey of trust and growth.”
Sampleoo[.]com was registered mere days earlier on 2023-12-26. Both Sampleoo[.]com and Samplesso[.]com were registered with Namecheap and have the exact same Cloudflare Name Servers of Kim.NS.cloudflare and Lakas.NS.cloudflare. This is pretty indicative of being purchased & operated by the same person or entity.
- Google Cache luckily still has a snapshot of Sampleoo and the blog articles are an exact copy of Samplesso.
- Back to Samplesso, judging from their blog URL structure, it appears they're attempting to backdate their articles to 2022 in order to make their company appear older than they are. There is no WHOIS history on the domain before December 2023, so it's impossible for this article to be from March 27, 2022.
This is a very old trick that scammers use attempting to fool Google into thinking they have a longer presence on the Internet than they actually do. Google doesn't really fall for this much anymore, but it's a tool that old scammers haven't seemed to stop reaching for.
- None of their listed staff are on LinkedIn, nor do they have any photos. I can't find proof these people exist at all.
- Deborah Holmes is listed as their Chief Technology Officer
- Bruce Stevens is listed as their Chief Marketing Officer
- Bobby Harris is listed as their CEO & Founder
These are all C-level positions that real life people proudly proclaim on their LinkedIn profiles, but when I search for these names within the UK, along with job titles of “chief,” CTO, CMO, or founder, I get zero results for all of them. This is unusual. If I search for other sample providers, such as SoPost or PinchMe, you'll see a lot of employees listed.
- Their listed phone number (+44 203 205 7200) and listed address (Mayfair Pl, London W1J 8AJ United Kingdom) are for a virtual office, not a real physical location.
- Their testimonials seem fake af. They bought the domain on 12-31-2023 and yet a day later on 01-01-2024 they had testimonials from London, Toronto, California, and Australia 🤔
- The testimonial thumbnails look like GAN photos of fake people, especially the women from London and California. Look at the ears – the way they're mashed and mangled are dead giveaways for GAN images.
Individually, none of these are indictments against the company if they're actually sending out samples! But if nothing is arriving via mail, in addition to all the red flags above, then I'm calling this company a fake.
I'll even go so far as to say I have a suspect as to who the owner of this fake freebie site is! There was a prolific fake freebie scammer in the UK a decade ago who I chased off the internet and I have a hunch they're back here. But until I can gather more information, I'm going to hold off on naming & shaming them.
And look, this sucks that I didn't see the scam ahead of time. I'm usually really good at spotting these, but nobody's perfect, right? I know people kinda roll their eyes at the idea of being a “freebie hunter” who vets offers, but I hope this post pulling back the curtain gives you a little sense of the work I do in order to protect your valuable data and personal privacy. I take fake freebies seriously and I do my absolute best every day to make sure they never find their way onto HIF.
Update: Right before I published this post, my contact at Charlotte Tilbury Beauty sent me this message:
[Samplesso] doesn't appear to be a legitimate partner of Charlotte Tilbury Beauty.
So that's pretty damning!
Why Do Scammers Post Fake Freebies?
The good news is nothing terrible is going to happen to you here! Your life isn't going to significantly change because you gave some unscrupulous person your email and mailing address. Your identity isn't going to be stolen or anything crazy like that, because it's not like you gave out enough contact information for somebody to open a credit card or bank account in your name.
So why do scammers even bother making fake freebie sites like this? It's all a numbers game. When you sign up, you're providing them a “lead” that they can turn around and sell to other marketers.
I bet you've received a phone call or twenty over the past few years about your car warranty being expired. Or maybe you've had a piece of junk mail slip into your email inbox or physical mailbox. No matter what we're talking about – be it a robo call, direct mailer, or email – somebody had to know that you were a person to contact.
They could scrape this information from the public internet, but there's no guarantee the address, email, or phone number they find is accurate or current. And it costs money to make those calls or send those emails. Even if it's only a fraction of a penny each time – that adds up when you're contacting a million people, so you don't want to send John Doe a piece of junk mail to an address he hasn't lived at in 10 years.
So these spam marketers (and honestly, even not-so-spammy marketers) purchase giant databases of recent, active leads. And what better place to get them from a fake freebie site!? You can imagine if you're spamming a health serum, then you'd love a list of people who recently confirmed their contact information for a bunch of fake makeup freebie offers, right?
This is one of the main reasons I always suggest using a freebie email address and making a free Google Voice number.
So yeah, even if you signed up for the previous two fake freebies that slipped under my radar last month, you should be fine and there's nothing serious to worry about. At worst, you might see a small uptick of spam emails over the coming months.
And the best case scenario is some marketer who is on the verge of purchasing Samplesso's leads will first Google them and find this post 🙂