Thieves are always out in full force during the holidays looking to rip you off. They play on your emotions and even devise elaborate schemes to trick you into handing over money or personal information. Tap or click here for holiday scams to know about so you don’t get fooled.
But a good scam can show up no matter the time of the year, especially on social media. There’s a clever scam making the rounds on Facebook right now that incorporates local businesses.
Keep reading for details on these tricky scams, so you don’t fall victim.
Here’s the backstory
Taking a page from the “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” playbook, the U.K. retail giant Marks & Spencer (M&S) is giving away hundreds of golden envelopes with $900 vouchers.
The way to win your golden ticket is to visit its Facebook page, share the promotional post and comment with a heart emoji. The post includes several photos of people who have already received their golden envelopes and happily show off their tickets.
Sound familiar? It should. This type of thing happens all the time in the U.S. You’ve probably seen many Facebook posts from local grocery stores to hardware shops offering the same kind of promotion.
The problem is the promotions aren’t real. Scammers are creating spoofed Facebook pages pretending to be affiliated with popular retailers and claiming that you can win a snowblower, money or some other type of prize.
According to fact-checking company Full Fact, a spokesperson for Marks & Spencer confirmed this competition wasn’t affiliated with the company. There are clues that this giveaway isn’t real.
How to spot fake Facebook promotional posts
One indication that the post and account are fake is revealed by looking at the page’s username and number of followers. The real Marks & Spencer has the account facebook.com/MarksandSpenser, while the phony page’s username is facebook.com/M.SFoodUK.
There is also a considerable difference in their statistics. The authentic page has over 5.5 million followers, while the fake page has under 300.
The scammers posted a link on the page where people can redeem their tickets but edited the URL preview to display the legitimate URL for M&S. Once you click on it, it takes you to a malicious website that can steal your data.
The page was created in early November, and the only posts are about the giveaway, which is another red flag. Since coming to the attention of Full Fact, Facebook now displays a banner underneath the competition post warning users about “false information” and that it’s been checked by independent fact-checkers.
While this scam is circulating throughout the U.K., there are many like it in the U.S. That’s why you should keep your guard up and be prepared.
Here are more ways to avoid falling victim to fake Facebook posts:
- Too good to be true? There’s probably a catch. We all like to get things for free, but don’t let this cloud your judgment. Follow the rule, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Guard your personal information. Never give your name, address, email, or other sensitive information to a stranger. This will make you vulnerable to other scams and identity theft.
- Find out when the poster created the Facebook profile. Scammers create new profiles when their old one gets banned. If you click on their profile, it will tell you how long they have been a group member. You can find additional information on their public profile.
- If you suspect a post is a scam, report it to Facebook.
If you see fake Facebook posts like this, help others by filing a report at BBB.org/ScamTracker.
True or false: Someone can see if you looked at their Facebook profile
Free app to quickly remove your pics and posts on Facebook, Twitter and more