People have been warned about a scam claiming to offer a free Easter chocolate basket, after Kent residents reported being caught out by it.
Kent County Council's warning comes after a fake Cadbury deal started circulating on phone messaging platforms and social media.
Images have been posted online by unsuspecting targets that show a WhatsApp message containing a link claiming to offer a free chocolate treat.
But the chocolate manufacturer has confirmed the offer is not genuine and should not be interacted with.
Posting on Twitter, the company said: “We’ve been made aware of circulating posts on social media claiming to offer consumers a free Easter Chocolate basket.
“We can confirm this hasn’t been generated by us and we urge consumers not to interact. Your security is our priority & we’re currently working to resolve this.”
KCC has now issued a similar warning urging people not to click on the link.
It tweeted: "#ScamAlert We've received reports from Kent residents caught out by a free Cadbury Hamper SCAM.
"The message is forwarded on WhatsApp by unsuspecting friends. Do not click on the link or share personal information.
"Delete the message. Warn friends & family. #ConnectedCommunities."
The message appears to be a phishing scam, where criminals create messages that look genuine to trick consumers into clicking a link to a bogus website.
From there viruses could be installed on their device, or personal information could be stolen to access financial statements or online bank accounts.
Cyber security experts have reported a notable increase in this type of scam in the last two years, with criminals using the uncertainty of the pandemic to try to scam people by posing as government departments, the NHS and delivery services.
Emails and text messages are sent claiming to be related to the vaccine rollout, contact tracing and parcel deliveries during lockdown.
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) advises people to consider carefully before clicking any link they are sent, unsolicited, by an organisation, and encourages people to look for telltale signs including poor spelling or grammar, or a sense of urgency in the messaging to try to encourage a rash decision.
Security experts also warn that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it often is.