Legit or not? Debunking the latest viral £50 Temu free money giveaway

By Charlie Sawyer

Published Apr 4, 2024 at 10:26 AM

Reading time: 4 minutes

Hey babes, it’s Explained By a Blonde time! This week, we’re conducting a little investigation of our own. The matter at hand? Finding out whether or not online marketplace Temu’s recent ‘free money’ giveaway, which went viral on social media, is nothing more than a scam, as some people have begun alleging. I know, this is some hard-hitting stuff, and I will say, if you’ve already taken part in this giveaway and are now freaking out about falling for it, why don’t you grab a sweet treat? Whatever the end result, I’m sure it’ll act as a comfort.

Also, before we all adorn our moral superiority pink cowboy hats, let’s remember that we’d be lying to ourselves if we said that we’ve never used sites like Temu or its slightly more fashion-focused (but just as gigantic) cousin, SHEIN. This is a judgement-free zone.

Now, let’s kick things off by clarifying that all the rumours surrounding Temu’s validity are completely speculative and that the marketplace has been deemed as a legitimate website by a number of reputable sources. That being said, it is hard not to wonder whether this most recent promotional giveaway might just be too good to be true.

For context, Temu recently announced that any users who sign up to the site, download the app, and then send out an invitation code to their friends, would be rewarded £50 in PayPal or web tokens. The concept is simple: as more users sign up for the invitation code, the chain reaction continues. Pretty straightforward, right? Well, not exactly. Many netizens have begun questioning the referral scheme and, more specifically, what Temu is doing with the data it’s handed over.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, we need actually delve into what Temu is and how it’s become one of the fastest-growing e-commerce platforms in the world.

What is Temu?

Temu is a Chinese-owned e-commerce company that specialises in heavily discounted goods. The products available range from home goods and kitchenware to accessories and clothing. After launching in the UK in April 2023, Temu skyrocketed in popularity—particularly among young consumers. Hauls began popping up all over TikTok with creators showing off the incredibly cheap items they’d been able to knab on the site.

@_miawootton

@Temu UK obsessed!!!💌 c0de deal7824 🔗in bio #temu #temuhaul #haultok #temufinds #tiktokmademebuyit ad

♬ original sound - Mia Wootton
@lauri__b

My temu finds🤍✨ #temu #temuhaul #temufinds #temureview #shoptemu #shoptemuinfluncer #shoptemuhaul #aestheticvideos #finds

♬ sonido original - Lauri🤍

In the US, having first launched in September 2022, Temu is equally popular. In fact, reports have found that the app was not only the most downloaded free app in the country in 2023, but that it also attracted longer engagement times than Amazon. Pretty impressive stuff if you ask me.

Is the Temu cash giveaway a scam?

Sites such as SHEIN and Wish are renowned for their relentless marketing tactics, and Temu is no exception. So, it came as no surprise when users found their timelines flooded with links encouraging them to sign up for Temu’s ‘free money’ giveaway. It’s a cost of living crisis babes, if I see the phrase “free money,” I’m definitely clicking.

The thing is, there are a lot of people out there who are convinced that Temu is a scam and that this particular referral scheme is simply a way for the app to collect users’ private data and then sell that information, likely for sinister purposes.

According to The Independent, data experts are urging people to reconsider participating in the giveaway, emphasising concern over how the app collects its users’ data. As per the rules of the offer, those who register must consent to the use of their data, including their “photo, name likeness, voice, opinions, statements, biographical information, and/or hometown and state for promotional or advertising purposes in any media worldwide” without being notified when it is used.

Speaking with the publication, Gaël Duval, a data privacy expert, stated: “I urge people to consider whether £50 is enough for giving away rights to the use of personal information for advertising or other purposes. It certainly highlights just how valuable personal data is to companies though, if they’re willing to offer cash incentives.”

A lot of netizens naturally came to a similar albeit potentially more dramatic conclusion:

Of course, Temu’s privacy policy clearly states that it unequivocally does not sell its users’ personal data. Indeed, when approached by The Independent about these accusations, the platform emphasised that its data conditions were “standard” and that Temu was simply being singled out.

That being said, Temu shortly after U-turned on its data conditions, informing users that it had tweaked the terms after realising that they were “overly broad.”

Duval went on to state: “By using big tech services like Google and social media, which most people do every day, you’re giving away huge amounts of personal information for free,” he said. “The more information a business has on users, both at scale and on an individual level, allows them to tailor their marketing messages to the right audience and enhance their profits.”

Interestingly, it could be argued that there is a heightened panic regarding data protection at the moment due to the many, many, many SHEIN scams that have graced our FYPs. Fun! There have been fake $750 gift cards, fake influencer collaboration opportunities, and so many more:

@lana42116

♬ never be like you - 𝓢𝓹𝓸𝓽𝓲𝓯𝔂 𝓛𝔂𝓻𝓲𝓬𝓼
@sarahmoshow

#greenscreen Beware of this SHEIN scam! Don’t fall for it , ! #shein #collabscams #sheinscam #sheinpr #scam #influencerscam #sarahmoliski #sheininfluencer #scamemail #fyp #viral

♬ Cumbia Buena - Grupo La Cumbia
@jackateglass

#shein #shein750reward #scamawareness

♬ original sound - 𝓢𝓹𝓮𝓷𝓬𝓮𝓻☑

What do experts suggest when it comes to protecting private data online?

So, to avoid falling for any of these scams, what exactly should we be doing? Cybercriminals are absolutely killing it these days. Not to give them props or anything but it’s true. First off, cybercrimes grew by 40 per cent in Britain in 2021. Moreover, there was a 23.5 per cent increase in social media hacking in the UK in 2022. 

Experts’ primary advice is to always make sure that you’re keeping your personal information as secure as possible. This means regularly updating your passwords, keeping your software up to date, maintaining preventative software programs, and always making sure to validate an email link or address before clicking on anything or entering personal data.

A really handy tool is Citizens Advice’s online scam checker. The tool asks users questions and then considers those answers to decipher whether or not they might have been caught victim of a scam. The tool will also then instruct you on what steps to take next.

I’m all about living on the edge now and then but these scammers do not do things half-heartedly so, stay safe out there kids.

SCREENSHOT reached out to Temu for comment and this was the company’s response: “Temu gathers minimal information needed to provide and enhance our e-commerce service to users. We do not sell customer data.”

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are based on the information available at the time of writing, readers are encouraged to do their own research.

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