PSA: Beware of Google Wave scam sites!


Google Wave is the hot thing in the geek world today. It’s the second Gmail, both literally and figuratively. Google is touting Wave as “email if it was invented today”. But also like Gmail when it first came out, it’s an invite only service. Invites are scarce and everyone’s out there hunting for one to get access to it. As a result, it’s not surprising that some people have decided to take advantage of this situation to start harvesting for email addresses to sell to others. It’s come to my attention that a lot of people, even the geeks who have been advising their non-geek friends against phishing attacks, have been falling for such scams. So I’ve decided to write this post to remind everyone to be alert.

So how do you make sure you don’t end up giving away your email address to someone who wants to use it for nefarious reasons? Well, here are some questions you should ask before you give that precious email address away, along with a possibly legit site, and the status of Google Wave invites now:

1. Why would Google give this random website so many invites? And why does this website have so many ads??

This is actually the simplest question to ask. If you think about it, Google is a pretty big website. If they were to give rare invites away, wouldn’t they want to choose someone that is established? If or Techcrunch were to give away Google Wave invites, I could totally understand and trust. But why would Google give some random website that popped out of no where so many invites? Especially if that website did nothing but “provide” Google Wave invites. Sure, there may be reasons why Google would do that, but are you willing to take the risk?

2. Why does this website need me to tweet this before they will give me an invite?

Because they probably want more people to put their email address inside that text field?

These websites are also taking advantage of the fact that “it might take a while before we can send you an invite”. You may never know that your email address is now in the hands of one more spam bot.

Example of a website that’s very likely to be legit was one such website. I say “was” because it’s no longer working (I’ll explain this later). But let’s look at what they claim. They do not claim to have invites, but they say that they’re building a website that allows people who DO have invites to give them to people that DON’T have invites. That makes a lot more sense. They’ve built something like a marketplace, a community of sorts, to let geeks help each other out and give invites. Also, they don’t ask you to “invite 5 more friends” or to “tweet this to more people” before you’re allowed to be part of it. Sure, they suggest you do that so that the community grows, allowing a better chance of people with invites to give them out to those who want them, but they don’t force you to. Why would that be necessary anyway?

Of course, there’s still a chance that this website could be one very elaborate plan to steal your email address, but if they’ve put in so much effort, they deserve to steal my email address. In any case, I’d trust them more than those other websites that have been popping out lately. Plus at least their explanation makes sense.

The bad news about Google Wave Invites dot com

As I mentioned earlier, they’re no longer around because they discovered that Google doesn’t give “secondary” Google wave users invites to give away. This makes me trust them even more should they come back. If they were really a scam site they’d have continued sourcing for users even though there weren’t any invites to give away.

In other words: the more you should be careful

Speaking of that, this means that there’s even lesser chance that someone would be able to give away invites today. My advice? Go to the official Google Wave website, sign up for the invite, and wait patiently. It’s the safest way to secure yourself a Google Wave account.

Remember: It’s better wait longer for an official Wave invite straight from Google than to give your email address to spammers. If you’re not sure, don’t give your email address to anyone.

Graphic in this post was modified from under CC BY 2.0.
Daniel Tsou is our fabulous host, who decides mostly what we talk about and basically calls the shots, Yes, he does. I, writer of this bio on Mr Tsou is very much afraid that by commiting this post to words, I will be dragged off in the night by a black Truck, or a Segway more like. Other than that, Daniel is tall, lived for a period of time in Venezuela and Spain, and is enthusiastic for all things tech.
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