Tuesday 24 June 2014

Facebook Scams - rearing their ugly heads again!

Wherever there are compers, there will be  scammers hovering, looking for a chance to take advantage of us. They may want to get hold of personal details to sell on, they may want to get mobile phone numbers to send expensive-to-receive text messages, they may want to hack into our computers or bank accounts, or they may just want to cause as much inconvenience as possible to as many people as possible, out of some warped sense of fun. And no Facebook, they may be simply looking to artificially boost page likes, either from vanity or in the hope of then selling the page on the black market to somebody undesirable, who will then appear in your timeline if you've liked the original page.

I've blogged about scam and fake competitions several times before - see

Is this a genuine competition?

Tis the season to be scammed!


URGENT - another Facebook scam competition

It's worth revisiting all these articles but here are ten top tips to help you spot scams.

1. scant or no contact details in the page's profile- look at the "About" section. There should be contact details including a website and ideally also an address

2. large prizes – phones, tablets, even cars - which are not the firm's own product

3. no sign of where their income comes from - no apparent selling, advertising or sponsorship

4. little or nothing on the page other than competitions

5. scant or no terms and conditions

6. generic photos of “prizes” which appear on multiple pages - come on, own up, just how many times have you seen that photo of the white BMW with the red ribbon on top?
7. pages that appear to be a well known company such as Argos or Tesco that only have competitions on them and no sign of other customer interactions
8. pages that have only been active for a few weeks yet already have tens of thousands of fans
9. getting people to invite friends to a private event with a huge number of prizes - one doing the round at the moment offers 10,000 Galaxy Tabs
10. Winners announcements, if any, that elicit no response from the winner.
There is an excellent article on Hoax Slayer about why these scams operate and what they hope to gain from you  and a You Tube video exposing the fraudulent claims of one of the current scam pages can be seen here  - and when you go to You Tube to watch the video, you will see links to yet more videos about scams and hoaxes - it's going on all the time, all over the world.
The best thing to do if you spot a page like this is to unlike it, if you've liked it, and use the Report Page button (you'll find it in the three dots menu at the top right of the page, next to where it says Share). Also if any of your friends like the page, it will show that in the Likes section - warn them that it is a scam.
Recently on Facebook we've also seen several instances of another type of scam - pages that belong to genuine small businesses who run a competition that gains them lots more followers, but the prize turns out to be given to a friend or family member of the owner or an employee of the company. Sometimes it is very blatant - in a recent case, the prizewinner's own profile said "Works at [name of company]" so they didn't do a very good job of trying to cover up their fraud! The whole purpose of a "competition" like this is to boost their page followers and hopefully get new customers. An unscrupulous business owner might think that nobody will spot their ruse, and it could be a very cheap form of advertising. After all, if the prize goes to their sister, son or tea lady, it's probably only handed over to them for as long as it takes to post the photo - then it's going straight back onto the shelf to be sold!
What should you do if you see, or suspect, this happening? Well, the answer is NOT to write on the wall of the page or that of the alleged fake winner. Why not? Well, if somebody is morally dubious enough to run a fake competition, they are also morally dubious enough to either cover the fact up, by deleting your posts or blocking you from posting, or to deny it outright. They're not going to say, "Oh dear, we made a mistake, we'll award the prize to a genuine entrant after all!". It is far better to report them to the ASA, who will investigate them. Although the ASA doesn't have the power to make them award a prize retrospectively, hopefully the investigation will shake them up and make them realise that they can't defraud the general public and yet still expect to get their custom.
And once again, tell all your friends about the fraud, especially those who like the page and may have entered. The great thing about Facebook is that news can spread virally, so lets use it among compers to help to protect each other!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thanks Jane for bringing your blog to my attention. And also to your previous blogs and very useful links. I now feel that I have the confidence to be able to spot a comping scam on social networks, and more importantly know what to do if I spot one.


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