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February 19th, 2013

Facebook Giveaway Hoaxes and Scams


If you’ve ever been seen a Facebook page or post that seems overly laden with giveaways and competitions that just seem too good to be true, then they probably are.

Most Facebook users have seen them at some point – those posts that claim sharing or liking the message, photo or webpage will win you a voucher or electronic goodie or some other prize.

These hoaxes see groups, pages or events created (often in the name of popular brands such as Apple, iPad, Samsung S4, Dell, iPhone, Disney, Walmart or Tesco) that falsely assert to offer free products on the condition that the user jump through several spam-laden hoops.

Such scams will typically require users perform certain steps in order to win (or become eligible) to win the prize on offer. These steps will often include some of the below…
- sharing/commenting/liking a Facebook Status or Photo
- visiting a webpage and sharing it on your Facebook wall
- joining a Facebook group, Page or event
- installing a Facebook app

Often these scams will then request a user to visit an external site to “claim their prize” – when the user does this they find they have to fill out surveys and questionnaires to qualify to win. This is known as a survey scam, and are designed to get the user to part with their personal information, or even join expensive SMS subscription plans. The image below shows a typical giveaway scam.

A typical giveaway page/event set up in the name of IT brand Apple.

As you can see from the image above that purports to offer free Apple products the user first has to like and share the photo and then visit an external website which then attempts to extract the user’s mobile phone number. This phone number is then used to sign the victim up to SMS subscription plans. And of course there is no giveaway and the user has no chance of winning any free Apple products. The page in the image above even goes as far as listing previous “winners” in order to add credibility.

After clicking the link in the image above we’re asked to complete an offer program that asks for our personal information as well as our phone number.

Worse still, these scams could potentially be used to commit identity theft.

To avoid these scams be aware of these red flags –

1. Branded companies such as Dell or Apple will run promotions via their official websites and Facebook pages. Therefore any promotion that is being run from third party websites or alternative Facebook pages should not be trusted. Official Facebook pages are marked with a little blue tick.

2. Be automatically sceptical of promotions that ask you to share a photo before you can enter. If sharing or liking a post is part of the eligibility process, check the page that made the post first. If it appears the Page shares this sort of content all the time then it is a scam.

3. Never ever trust promotional contests that condition entry on giving away your personal information to third party websites. These rewards programs are spammy and harvest a user’s information in order to spam them with useless marketing “deals” and “offers”. Additionally never give out your phone number either as you’ll likely be entered into expensive SMS subscription plans.

4. Ask yourself these questions –
a. Is it an official page from a trustworthy organisation? No means probably a scam.
b. Has it only recently been created? Yes means its certainly a scam.
c. Do the vast majority of posts on the Page asking you to Like and Share images, or to Like the Page? Yes means its certainly a scam.

Remember that having reliable security software installed can block some of these threats.

Also remember that your personal information is valuable to spammers. Tricking a user into thinking they will receive some freebie is an easy opportunity for a spammer to lure victims into handing over that valuable information.

Also check out our article on why sharing and liking posts on Facebook, no matter how innocent they seem, can make scammers rich, on our article on like-farming scams.

Let us know your thoughts - comment on this story below.

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  • Pam Lewellen

    My sister went through this site and well I think it’s a hoax. A little help please?

  • marianne

    Hey here’s one that I just got now on my facebook page
    You might want to add it above as well.
    (I am not buying the hoax whatsoever)

  • Jessica Bernhardt

    Is this a hoax or do they really pay you when you reach $300 weekly pay .com ?

  • William Bouchie

    I try to nip this sort of thing in the butt as it’s passed to me, but people will never understand that they are a scam thinking, “I did it just in case it’s real.” Maybe some day someone’s going to sue a friend for forwarding a scam that took thousands out of them. Only then will it become an issue. I just don’t want to be that friend who forwards it…

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