PSA – Fake Facebook Giveaways. Lucrative for the wrong reasons.

So I’ve had a spate of people in my network, friends, family and professional, who have been sharing some incredible giveaways.

Most of them are skeptical when I suggest that it’s a fake and they need to be more careful. Some even go on to say ”what’s the harm”. So I feel it’s really important to stress this one.

Let’s start from the beginning.

How do you spot a fake?

I won’t be as callous as to say ”use common sense” here – as some of these scams are extremely convincing. It’s their craft after all.

There is however the sniff test. If it’s too good to be true, often it isn’t. Think about the offer. Why would a company be so generous? What are they hoping to gain? Most big corporations don’t *need* to give away a $100k car for example when their brand is a household name. That’s not to say many don’t for publicity, but it’s a flag when the first you hear of it is through a shared Facebook post, not an ad on TV etc.

Beyond that, let’s take one of these recent scams apart.

The real red flag to me here is that you have to click on a link to ”validate your entry”. This will no doubt either ask for a phone number, address, or even bank details – and in cases ask for access to your pages information. Scary.

1. Note the URL for the Facebook page. Typically they will emulate the brand that they are pretending to be, with ”-uk” ‘-aus” ”-official” ”-2019” tacked on to the end, because of course, the official name has already been taken.

2. Check out the image. Corporations have stringent branding guidelines, so check that the imagery closely matches other ads you’ve seen around etc.

3. Check the Page name. Similarly to 1) above, typically the page name will have something tacked on to the end to match the URL given that the official name has been taken.

4. Images. Does the image used in the promotion ring true? In this example, why would Ford with all of their marketing millions, use a photograph in a random car park with no signage?

Read the Copy. “Enter by the 31th December”.

The car in the photo after a quick google, is clearly NOT a 2019 Fiesta like the ad suggests.

5. Page Likes. This is a big one. Typically – you can gauge how many people you would expect to have liked an official page. Ford being as big as it is, would likely be into the millions or tens of millions. This page has 14k. Which, if you run ads in the right way is extremely easy to obtain, especially through fake accounts.

6. Page Transparency. This helpful tool on Facebook shows when a page was created. In this case, just a week ago. Hitting “See More” will also show you metrics such as ads run, page name changes and importantly, Corporate owner of the page if any. Of course, this page showed ”No Confirmed Owner”.

Let’s compare that to the Real McCoy –

Note the Simply Page name “FordAustralia” or UK or wherever you are – interesting segway, many pages will now direct you to your local page for the corporation. There is also a blue ”verified” badge to show that Facebook has confirmed the owner of the page and brand.

Note that it has 14M followers and many of which are mutual friends – you’d expect that to be the case if it’s a household name. Also be sure to scroll down the page – there should be a history of posts, not one post – the competition they’re trying to sign you up to.

Notice that the page has been up since 2009 and clicking see more brings up a history of page name changes, and numerous people who manage the page over different countries.

But why would they go to this effort?

Well, the implications can range from naughty to outright dangerous. Firstly the scammer can be simply compiling a list of contacts to sell on or use for further ads either to sell products or further scams.

Secondly they may take your contact information and attempt to use it for ID fraud – or to contact you at a later date in an attempt to scam you. Be wary of any mysterious phishing phone calls that come after you’ve entered one of these comps and donated your number!

From there there are possibilities that they want to attempt to hijack your Facebook page – effective in further scams (think about it, with your message history, who knows what sensitive info you’ve shared. It also gives them insight into your life that they can use for further ID Fraud (given your address out to a mate? Kids names mentioned in messages? Sent a copy of a driver’s licence to yourself or to secure a booking? People messaging you happy birthday and taking the mick out of you for being a certain age? Bingo, a credit application is now possible).

The possibilities are wide and none of them stand to benefit you.

So there you have it. That’s not to say there aren’t legit giveaways, of course there are. But they tend to be worth a few hundred to a couple of thousand max, not tens and hundreds of thousands – and if they are you can be damn sure they would be well publicised. So keep that in mind the next one someone shares a big giveaway and says ”YOLO, you never know, what’s the worst that can happen.”

Fraud Bill. Devastating Fraud.