Mobrewards Scam Targeting iOS and Android Users

Mobrewards Scam

If you browse the web using an iPad, iPhone, or any of the wealth of Android smartphones you may have started seeing annoying ads for a site called Mobrewards, which seem to pop up on various pages across the web, often forwarding users from the page they are viewing to mobrewards.org. The volume of these pop-ups and annoyance of being redirected has meant that some users have resorted to rebooting their phones or tablets to get away from the problem.

We’ve seen these problems ourselves at TechFruit HQ on both an iPhone and an HP TouchPad running Cyanogenmod Android ICS, but it seems to be affecting everyone from iPad users to those with the latest Samsung Galaxy S3. There also doesn’t appear to be any pattern as to which sites redirect users or show this popup – it is happening across a wide variety of sites targeting a variety of users. We haven’t seen any reports of Windows Phone users being targeted as yet, but they may simply be too small a portion of users to be targets at the moment – some security through obscurity like Apple has had with OSX over the years.

Our first thought was that the issue came with a rogue app, although that it is affecting both iOS and Android users makes this less likely, and with some Samsung Galaxy S3 users noticing the problem with phones only a day or two old – again this points to a web based issue – most likely a rogue advertiser injecting these popups and redirections through a respected ad network. As yet we have been unable to determine which network this is, however, as the sporadic issues cannot be reproduced – meaning this is a targeted scam possibly targeting users at certain times of day such as during the night when users are less likely to investigate, and possibly using some delaying tactics so users cannot be sure which site is causing them the issues.

Hopefully we will find more information on this soon and help everyone address the issue. For the time being if you see the popup do not click Yes/Accept and close the browser window, clear your browser cache, clear your cookies, and make sure you have block popups turned on.

#UPDATE 30/06/2012
It appears that whoever is behind this scam is also using the name “Mob Prizes”, “Mobile Winner”, “Mobile Visitor”, “Rewards Today”, and “Mob Gifts” and using mobprizes.com as well as mobilewinner.org, mobilevisitor.org, rewardstoday.org, and now mobgifts.org and it is affecting users from all over the world – not just the UK and US anymore.

#UPDATE 28/02/2013
The mob rewards scam seems to be continuing a pace, and now with a new twist that there are reports of users being pushed to the App Store to download the Candy Crusher app. This is likely due to the app offering some form of affiliate agreement, but as the app is free with in-app purchases something affiliates don;t normally earn commission on it is a bit of a mystery at this point.

#UPDATE 21/04/2013
The mob rewards scam seems to be continuing, with iPhone users unable to use the browser (Safari) after an advertisement from ad.king.com. The problem here is that iOS does not close your tabs when you close Safari or reboot, which means that it is difficult to close the ad. There are, however, a couple of ways to fix this:

  • Try opening a link to a different page (like Google.com) from a link within an email or Twitter. Then once that page is open, click the open tabs icon and close each tab apart from Google.com. Then reboot and see how that works for you.
  • Settings >> Safari. Under the “Privacy” section switch on “Private Browsing”. Click “Close All Tabs”. Then open Safari and go to Google.com. Close Safari. REBOOT your iPhone. Now go back and switch off private browsing in Settings.

Let us know how you’re getting on in the comments.

[The images above of the problem were captured by Galaxy44 on the XDA Developers forum]

About the author: Tim

Tim is a digital entrepreneur and the editor of TechFruit

  • ash

    Just had this pop up. Even had a special notification icon as a white star with a red spot in it. Fairly convincing for a scam actually. Convincing enough for me to even bother researching it at least.

  • Patryk Romańczyk

    I had this redirection problem on xda developer forum page.

  • Wiseup101

    This is doing my head in, argh!. Trying to her onto pages and this pops up all the time!. Damn iOS. No sain person would fall for this.

  • jane

    i just got this thing on my sony experia s phone. in danish. and it was not with google translation.

  • nicky

    I got a pop up that says I can win an I phone. I am perfectly happy with my android so buzz off! I just cannot get the annoying add away. It appears when I use apps or internet but I cannot click it away

    • http://techfruit.com Tim [techfruit]

      This happens whilst in apps for you as well? That sounds like they have either changed tactics or these pops may be from something else. Have you installed any apps recently?

  • Blackstar

    having this problem daily,doing my head in and have to click ok and then go back a page and so lose whatever l was doing,it is so annoying.

    • http://techfruit.com Tim [techfruit]

      Have you tried following the steps above about clearing your cache, etc and rebooting?
      What device are you using?

  • skinnypuff

    i have a srupid notification the star thing as well. i dont get redirected on the web however i think the bug came with an app. it all started after a app download spree…htc one x

  • Jamessss

    Keeps sending me to App Store and wanting me to download candy crusher for some reason?

    • Big baller

      Same thing with me

    • Tim

      Interesting – thanks for the information, I’ve updated the piece above and will reach out to the app developer for comment now

      • Wallphone

        Found this in the addressbar of my Android device today, whatever triggers the pop-up did so when outside range of my WiFi, and in a browser I don’t typically use

        market : // details?id=com.king.candycrushsaga&referrer=ACID155-1378084374937-74420184

    • Tim

      Just to double check – are you talking about this app? https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/candy-crusher/id299969928

    • Alex

      GOD ME TOO

  • Big baller

    It keeps wanting me to download candy crush saga

  • Dawn

    I cleared the cookies as suggested, shut down & restarted. It won’t even allow me to type in s title on the bar because it immediately goes blank and starts switching to ad.king.com. How can I fix this???

    • Tim

      Dawn, are you using an iPhone or an Android phone?

      • Dawn

        Iphone4

        • Tim

          iOS doesn’t close your open browser tabs on reboot, and so will try and reopen your most recent open tab when you click on Safari.

          Try opening a link to a different page (like Google.com) from a link within an email or Twitter. Then once that page is open, click the open tabs icon and close each tab apart from Google.com. Then reboot and see how that works for you.

  • Charlie

    Same it’s annoying that was a waste of money and does anyone else know any other websites I can use to download music?

  • mahine tamati

    Auckland’s Results:
    You Have Come 1st Place!
    i won a prize on my cell phone but wen i choose the prize it would not let me claim it and it read-
    your mobile mobile number was chosen at random this afternoon in aucklands (mobile)prize contest and you are now eligible to choose(1) of the (4) prizes listed below. so I chose a prize and it accepted but then a pop up message would come up with Windows limit reached- unable to open new window. Maximum number of windows already opened and i tried most of the night and all this morning trying to claim my reward and i think this is a con and i would like these pop ups to stop they are false advertising and I would like to lay this as a complaint about your company on facebook and twitter etc. unhappy about this

  • Kari

    I’m using iphone 4 and I can’t even get a letter typed in before it redirects me to ad.king and wants me to download candy crush. I’ve deleted cookies both in the app and through settings/safari. I’m beginning to think it’s a deal between created of app and creators of candy crush. Here’s the link it takes me to
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/candy-crush-saga/id553834731?mt=8

  • Sam

    Randomly when I click on a link it takes me to the download page for candy crush saga on the Google play store. It’s quite annoying. Any suggestions on how to get rid of this? I’m using a Galaxy Nexus.

  • Luisita

    Hi Tim
    I just received similar scam, glad you have the android image, I got exactly the same. First, I really thought I have won something because of the ‘Android Reward’, then I though it would be safe to google it first and I found you. Here is the link appear on my phone, no mention about mob rewards etcs.:
    http://visitorsurveygroup.com/gen_cl/wap/english_ipad3_black/winner_ipad3_gem_c0.php?email=&phone=&country=New%20Zealand
    Thanks for the picture posted, very helpful.

    • Tim

      Thanks for the info Luisita – I’ve not come across this one yet!

  • Kev

    I’m using an iPod touch and I click the bar the type in a song and it immediately takes me to candy crushers how do I stop this?

    • Tim

      iOS doesn’t close your open browser tabs on reboot, and so will try and reopen your most recent open tab when you click on Safari causing this annoying problem.

      Try opening a link to a different page (like Google.com) from a link within an email or Twitter. Then once that page is open, click the open tabs icon and close each tab apart from Google.com. Then reboot and see how that works for you.

  • WhatThe??

    I am having same problem with redirecting to candy crusher in app store. I am using Iphone4 and the app with this problem is Free Music Download Pro by bsosoft. When using that app’s browser, if I try to navigate to mp3skull, that is when the redirect occurs. I can navigate to other websites on this app’s browser without being redirected. Safari app does not have this problem. On the free music app, I have cleared cookies per instructions and closed all open windows in the browser, also went into Safari and cleared cookies/cache and closed all open windows .. then I power cycled the phone .. all to no avail, when I go back to the free music app and try to navigate to mp3skull, it redirects me back to candy crusher … ANNOYING! Any further suggestions? I am considering deleting the free music app but dont want to lose the music already downloaded. Also, I can not find this app in the App Store, is there something wrong with it? I downloaded this app maybe a year ago and have used it sporadically with no problems up until last week. Thanks!

  • Dan84

    What happens if you click yes/accept

    • Tim

      Don’t.

      • Dan84

        I have

        • Tim

          From what I’m hearing, not much will happen different to be honest, but in general you shouldn’t click yes on these things as “Yes” could mean consent to download some adware or similar that you really don’t want.

          In this case, clicking yes doesn’t seem to do much but if it has downloaded something onto your device surreptitiously then DO NOT CLICK/INSTALL IT.

          • Dan84

            Cheers pal.will .will think next time ha ha

      • Dan84

        I have. Had a stupid moment

      • Dan84

        I have.had a stupid moment.what happens then?

  • Amanda

    Just wondered if anyone else had this as it seems all to much of a coincidence…received a call on my iphone this afternoon from a number +88888 didn’t answer it, they left a messages, instantly deleted it without opening it – go to use safari on the phone and the lovely mobirewards pops up! I cannot open safari at all – either another page by link from email, tried all Tim’s suggestions and still not working – any ideas other that throw the thing in the bin? Anyone else had this number call too?

    • Tim

      I don’t imagine the phone call is related.

      Have you tried this?
      iOS doesn’t close your open browser tabs on reboot, and so will try and reopen your most recent open tab when you click on Safari.

      Try opening a link to a different page (like Google.com) from a link within an email or Twitter. Then once that page is open, click the open tabs icon and close each tab apart from Google.com. Then reboot and see how that works for you.

      • Amanda

        Tried all that Tim, but the pop-up just blocks all the open pages on safari. Tried from a trusted email link but the pop-up blocks the whole page, and has completely disabled the whole of safari, so I cant open another tab…completely baffled!

        • Tim

          OK, try this:
          Settings >> Safari
          Under the “Privacy” section switch on “Private Browsing”

          Click “Close All Tabs”

          Then open Safari and go to Google.com.
          Close Safari
          REBOOT your iPhone
          Now go back and switch off private browsing in Settings.
          Open Safari.

          How does that work for you?

  • Judas

    On Android I’m not getting anything about winning anything. It just redirects my browser to “ad.king.com” with no website in between, and then opens the app store. You might note that King.com is also the developer of the game. While the game is free, they do charge for some features I’d imagine. This may not be a 3rd party but just a dishonest business.

    Luckily I can just not go to the website that causes this and dont have the same problems with it as the Iphone.

    • Tim

      Thanks for the info

  • Jayme

    Having the same issue where it takes me to download candy crusher please help! Tried all suggestions listed below

    • Tim

      I’ve just updated the post above with a couple of new options to try. Please give them a go and let me know you you get on

      • Jayme

        No luck. Do you need
        More info?

  • Gray

    Getting hit hard with the redirect that opens the app store and displays Candy Crush Saga (a game I will never ever download). I’ve had it happen on more than one website. Chrome on iOS (iPhone 5). I’ve been trying to find info on this problem and honestly, this is the most informative site I’ve found so far aside from a singular random post on a completely unrelated forum that suggested going to Settings->General->About->Advertising and turning it to ON and hitting reset, and then rebooting. I’ve done this but only time will tell if it works or not (I’ve also completely cleared the browser and have even gone so far as to disable cookies entirely). I’m also switching to Opera, the only browser I have not seen mentioned in the same breath as adking/candy crush saga/etc. Firefox has been mentioned as not being hit as well, except there’s no iPhone version. Perhaps the Android users can try that if they like. I’ll miss my Chrome, though. I’ve also seen people claim that when they get hit with this on their PCs, it tries to download and install something. Not sure about Mac. I haven’t been hit outside of my phone. I run script blockers on my PC, though, so I would probably never see it.

    Finally, I’ve submitted feedback to Apple to ask/beg them to please look into this since it’s behaving very much like malware. Maybe if people start submitting feedback about this, they will have to deal with it.

  • Schmidty142

    Same here it will kick me out an it gets frustrating to download music

  • Dake

    I’ve begun getting an Ap shortcut mysteriously loaded to one of my panes. I’ve removed it before (can’t find the ap at all in my loaded aps). I tried selecting it once and it takes me online to download. GSIII with Avast

  • John

    I just got this pop up on my windows phone, claiming I had been selected by Nokia for an iPad.
    http://mobile.carrieroffers.com/lander/sweepstakes/new-ipad/lp8_brand_audiov1_48jsdbdjbxc/?c=1&l=8&subid=25855303

  • chris

    i have a nokia 980 with verizon. it is by far the best phone i have ever had i just wish i didnt waist two years ill never get back with apple. I have seen this popup on my phone. every time i opened this app called Amazing music. Its another free music streaming app. it says nokia customer, you have been selected by nokia to recieve a new ipad. who the hell falls for that. probably people that think apple makes good products. they make the same thing over and over in different sizes.

  • annoyed

    sg3 here running 4.1.2 everytime i go to nbcnews.com using firefox i get he candy crush playstore popup

  • Steve100

    i got rid of open Safari sessions on an iPhone 4 by going to Settings>>>Safari and selecting the “Clear Cookies and Data” option. Work so far.

  • techyoda

    If anyone can here having had this nasty little popup (web.prizes-gift) when in OSX Safari then the way to get rid of is it is force quit and then when given the option don’t reload the windows! I tried typing a google link into a word doc first and clicking on it then doing the force quit. Then when it reloaded it just went to google.

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!