The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning the public about fake social media giveaways, where scammers use a technique called “like-farming.”
The scam involves posts on Facebook, Instagram or other platforms that ask you to like or comment to enter for the chance to win something, like $500 in groceries for example.
The catch is that many of these giveaways don’t actually exist. They’re created by scammers as a way of accumulating as many social media interactions as possible, according to the BBB.
Once the scammers have garnered enough likes or comments, the BBB says they’ll edit the post and add something malicious, such as a link to malware.
Other times, the BBB says the scammers will strip the original content off the page that has garnered likes and use it to promote “spammy” products or sell it on the black market.
While these phony giveaways exist online, so do legitimate ones. The BBB has offered these tips to decipher which are real and which are fake:
- 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 that 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.