(BBB) – Who doesn’t want $500 in gift cards, free groceries, or designer clothes? When budgets are tight, it’s easy to be tempted by a phony social media giveaway. But before you “like” or comment on a social post in hopes of winning a prize, make sure that giveaway is the real deal.
How this scam works
You see a post promoting a giveaway on Facebook, Instagram, or other social media platform. In order to win $500 in groceries or another substantial prize, all you need to do is comment on the post, and you’ll be entered in the drawing.
Sounds easy, right? The catch is that many of these “giveaways” don’t really exist. They are created by scammers as a way of accumulating as many social media “likes” and comments as possible.
As with many scams, this technique, known as “like-farming,” has several different aims. Often, the giveaway post itself is initially harmless – albeit fake. But when the scammer collects enough likes and shares, they will edit the post and add something malicious, such as a link to malware. Other times, once scammers reach their target number of likes, they strip the page’s original content and use it to promote spammy products or sell it on the black market.
Protect yourself from phony social media giveaways:
Some giveaways are real. For example, CashApp has been running weekly cash prize giveaways since 2017. But scammers often use similar language and pretend like they are part of an official giveaway. Here’s what to watch out for:
- Look for the blue checkmark. Many social media platforms verify pages from brands and celebrities so that users can tell real pages from copycats. Make sure you look for that trust mark before liking and sharing content.
- Watch out for new accounts: If you think a giveaway is real, click on the business or celebrity’s profile. If it’s a new account with very little other content, that’s a big red flag.
- Look out for spelling errors and typos: Real brands use giveaways to promote their company. Spelling errors and typos will make them look bad! They are big warning signs of a scam.
- The giveaway asks you to complete too many tasks: If a giveaway asks you to comment on multiple posts, follow several accounts, and tag a couple of brands, it becomes almost impossible to keep track of everyone participating and pick a winner at random (as required by law).
- There are no terms and conditions. Online giveaways should include contact details of the organizer, how to take part, how the winner will be selected, and eligibility requirements. If you don’t see information, that’s an instant red flag.
- Don’t click “like” on every post in your feed. Scammers are counting on getting as many mindless likes as possible, so be sure you only “like” posts and articles that are legitimate. Don’t help scammers spread their con.
For more information: For more about social media scams, see this article about Facebook Messenger cons and this about misleading social media advertising. For more about sweepstake scams, read these tips from the Federal Trade Commission.