While Facebook can be a ton of fun, it’s also home to a number of scams and swindles. But we're working hard to exposes the hoaxes and keep you safe online!
Facebook scams can take many forms. At their most harmless, they’re simply annoying – posting spam to your wall and annoying your friends and followers. But some of them are altogether nastier, posing a serious threat to your personal data and even finances.
That’s why we’ve put together this helpful, regularly updated guide to expose the worst Facebook scammers, list the latest threats and help you stay safe on social media.
So next time you’re on Facebook, keep an eye peeled for these hoaxes – and if you know someone who’s prone to falling for this sort of thing, why not share this article with them? You might just save them from being taken for a ride.
‘Raffles’ on Facebook are a growing trend, but scams and swindles are rife – and if you’re taken in, there’s no way to get your money back.
Here’s how it works: the scammers set up a Facebook page or group with ‘raffle’ or ‘prize draw’ in the title, promising a flashy prize for the winner: anything from a car to a cash lump sum. To make it more enticing, you’ll often see a glamorous picture of the supposed prize.
The owners of the page invite Facebook users to join, then sell tickets over PayPal or online bank transfer. Eventually, a draw takes place, a winner is announced – and the prize is sent off. Or is it?
In a word: no.
Far more often, the raffle page simply disappears, along with the owner’s Facebook account. It’s gone without a trace – and so’s your money.
The truth is, the vast majority of such ‘raffle’ pages are scams. There’s no guarantee winners will receive anything – although the scammers will often use ‘shill’ accounts to claim otherwise. Worse still, there’s no way to get your money back once you’d paid up.
Finally, any raffle that’s not licensed by the Gambling Commision is strictly illegal in the UK – even if the organisers aren’t deliberately ripping people off. Facebook remove raffle pages as soon as they find them, so any ‘Facebook raffle’ you take part in could disappear at any time.
For that reason, we advise never getting involved in Facebook raffles, prize draws or tombolas – instead, report any you see to Facebook to protect other users.
This next hoax has been doing the rounds in various forms for a while – but this is a particularly tempting version.
It works like this: you’ll see a link, posted by another Facebook user, promising a £500 British Airways voucher giveaway to celebrate the airline’s anniversary. All you need to do is follow the link, pop in a few personal details and await your free flight!
Except, of course, it’s a scam.
This ‘fake voucher hoax’ is something we see time and time again – and while the details of the offer vary, the broad strokes of the scam remain the same:
Enter your personal details after following the link, and you’ll never receive the promised voucher. But the scammers will harvest your personal data – including your name, location and email address – leaving you at risk of further, more personally targeted scams, or even identity theft.
Offers like this are definitely tempting, which is why we see them so often. But the standard rule of thumb applies: if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Who doesn't dream of getting away from it all? The open road, the freedom to go anywhere, and it'd be even better in a fully tricked-out luxury camper van! An amazing prize for sure, or at least it would be – if it existed.
The fake RV giveaway is a perennial favourite of Facebook scammers because, well, people keep falling for it! Of course, there's no prize to be had here; the whole thing is just another variant on the all-too-common 'Like-farming' scam.
Facebook pages are big business, and a page with a high level of activity or a large follower base can be worth quite a bit of money. As such, scammers will frequently set a page up and get people to interact with it by any means possible – and a fake competition is arguably the most effective tool at their disposal.
The general rule with these kind of scams is, if it looks to good to be true it probably is! If you look at the page itself you can see it's not been in existence very long, and doesn't even claim to be affiliated with a large company or even n RV manufacturer.
That then leads you to the question of why a seemingly random company would be giving away such a massive prize – and of course, the answer is they wouldn't!
All the same, it may seem like you've got nothing to lose by entering – but these scams work because people engage with them. If nobody entered, they'd stop pretty quickly – so don't encourage them. By sharing these posts you're encouraging the scammers to carry on and also possibly leading your Facebook friends into falling for them too.
This is actually one of the less sophisticated scams, as it doesn't link to an external website or harvest any additional data – but, depending on your Facebook privacy settings, you could still be making yourself vulnerable to more spam and other unwanted social media attention.
Although at first glance this seems to be an innocent way to show your compassion, it's arguably the most distateful of all the scams currently circulating on Facebook.
Someone will share a picture of a sick child and simply ask you to type "amen" as a prayer for them, then share it on.
There's also a variation using a picture of an attractive disabled girl, generally an amputee, with a caption along the lines of "My husband doesn't think I'm beautiful because I'm disabled - can I get a share prove him wrong?" Nothing wrong with showing a bit of support, right?
But this is another scam – and unfortunately one that the people in the pictures have no idea they're involved in.
The sharing and commenting serves a double purpose for the originator of the post. All that engagement is fantastic for their page, making it more valuable and also giving it more 'weight' within Facebook. If Facebook sees a page generating a ton of engagement, it's more likely to promote its content to people. This kind of cheap, dishonest post is often used by would-be social media "celebrities" and YouTubers to boost their followings.
More worryingly, however, these kinds of posts can also act as a kind of 'mark' test for scammers – a mark being a potential scam victim.
By engaging with one of these posts, you're basically filling in a survey that says "Yes, I'm quite gullible and tend to take everything I see on social media at face value". That can then lead to you becoming a target for far more serious follow-ups, like phishing scams, through direct messaging.
By far the worst aspect of this scam, though, is the unauthorised use of the pictures themselves. These are all used without the permission of the original owners – and it's unlikely that any of them would want themselves or their sick child used to scam people.
Out of all the scams we've covered, this is the one we'd ask people to stop engaging with immediately – beyond the potential danger to the user, it's also potentially harmful and upsetting to the innocent people whose pictures have been hijacked.
This scam is particularly nasty: falling victim to it could cost you control of your own Facebook profile, and possibly more!
It all starts when you receive a Facebook message from the “Facebook Security Team” or someone similarly official-sounding. The message claims that someone has reported you for violation of Facebook’s terms of service – and that if you don’t click a link to respond, your account will be suspended or even deleted.
But of course, the message is a lie. Click the link, and you’ll be whisked away to a deceptive website that’s designed to look like the real Facebook site – but is in fact designed to steal your personal details. First, you’ll be asked to log in – inadvertently sending your username and password to the scammers. From there, you might even be asked to “verify your identity” using details such as your credit card number – but even if you smell a rat at this point and back out, they’ve still got full access to your Facebook account and all its information!
Thankfully, protecting yourself is simple. Facebook will never contact you directly through the Facebook messaging service. If they need to contact you about an account issue, you’ll receive a unique and readily identifiable notification in your main News Feed when you log in.
For that reason, you should never click a link in a message purporting to be from Facebook. And if you’re ever presented with a Facebook login screen, make sure you check your browser’s address bar before entering your account details: if you don’t see a proper “Facebook.com” address with a little ‘lock’ icon to symbolise a secure connection, close the page and walk away!