Perhaps, it’s even easier than you think to spot a fake giveaway. When you’re on a tight budget, you could be tempted by fake social media giveaways like free groceries, designer clothes, or $750 gift cards. However, be sure the giveaway is real before commenting or liking them, expecting to win a prize.
How scammers can fake social media giveaways
Scammers create fake pages on social platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. To make fake giveaways look real, they present themselves as a person or a brand that you trust.
Logos, photographs, and other graphics of the victimized person or brand could be used by scammers without permission.
Scammers will build lots of fake likes to the said pages with other fake accounts and bots. Sometimes, they offer incentives like small giveaways to get real people to like their pages. Another method scammers can drive likes to their pages is to run ads on the respective platform.
Eventually, the scammers contact specific followers and lie that they just won a prize. This typically happens when a significant amount of real people follow the page.
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People who have been dreaming of big prizes would be tempted to give up personal information or money to get the prize. Unfortunately, the targets could become victims of identity fraud once they reveal their sensitive, personal information or bank information to these fraudsters in faith to win the said prize.
How to spot a fake giveaway
The difference between a legitimate prize win and a social media giveaway scam could be easier than you think to identify. That said, below are ways to spot a fake giveaway:
1. Note the general red flags
Social media pages of sweepstakes scams contain many red flags, which can be obvious signs to tell. Generally, you should steer clear of any giveaway page full of poor grammar and spelling—this is unlike any legitimate giveaway run by legit professionals. Moreover, any giveaway requesting sensitive, personal information or money for the prize is a scam.
2. Check if the page has a verified mark
The identities of companies and celebs likely to be faked are verified ones with a check mark like a blue check next to their profile names on the social platform. This gives legitimacy and verification to the pages.
However, not all legit giveaway pages on social media are verified. The profile pages of some known brands and websites do not carry the blue check mark since they’ve not been verified yet or the companies are yet to request verification.
3. Search the company’s website for a giveaway announcement
If you’re looking for the legit pages of your favorite companies, get them through their websites. You can be confident that the link on their website will take you to their legit pages, instead of searching for their pages on social media.
4. Requests from users pretending to be celebrities
There are millions of social media users, among them are your favorite movie and music celebrities. It’s unlikely, although flattering, for them to request to be your social media friend (especially when the profile has no verification badge). This is not to say no celeb can send you a request, especially if you have value to offer or happen to have a personal relationship with them. The idea is just that “scammers impersonate celebrities on social media”—FTC.
5. Spelling and grammar errors
A page full of entertaining posts on relevant topics is the typical page celebrities and companies use to keep followers interested. Thus, be cautious when you come across a recently created company page filled with bad grammar or spelling, or the posts do not relate to the goals and reputation of the company, or their followers are low in number and hardly interact on the page.
6. Stock or stolen images on the giveaway post
If a specific prize is offered by a brand or an influencer in a giveaway, it is expected that they should make use of unique photos of the prizes, and not stock images. Thus, be suspicious of any giveaway using stock images from the internet. You can use a reverse image search tool like Google Image to search the photos. If you notice that they have been used without permission or are generic, you just spot a fake giveaway.
7. You’re asked to complete too many tasks
If you are asked to tag several people, post comments on multiple posts, and follow several accounts, the giveaway is most likely fake. This is because keeping track of the people that are participating and picking a random winner as required by law gets almost impossible. Refer to this publication to learn about social media contests and the law and how organizers are expected to keep things legal.