Competition winners become victims of Facebook scams

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ConsumerBusiness / company
  • Entrants to Facebook competitions contacted by fake profile imitations
  • Told they won but must provide personal and financial information to claim prize
  • Businesses in WA’s tourism and hospitality industry targeted

Entrants in Facebook competitions are being warned that they could be targeted by scammers with the devious aim of stealing personal and financial information.

WA ScamNet at Consumer Protection reports that competitions being run by legitimate WA businesses on their Facebook pages are being hijacked by scammers who create a bogus page using a similar or only slightly modified name of the real business.

Competition entrants are promised the possibility of winning a prize if they share, like or comment on the competition post and that’s when the scammers strike.

Entrants then receive a message from the fake profile saying they have won but they need to register their details by clicking on a link. The link goes to a fake website confirming the win but the ‘winners’ must provide their personal and financial details first to get the prize.

Competitions targeted in recent months are mostly run by tourism and hospitality businesses and include hotels, resorts, restaurants, bars and breweries.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Gary Newcombe said these businesses are being hit with a double whammy.

“Operators in this industry are already struggling with the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, so now they have to contend with social media scammers disrupting their promotions that aim to boost their business,” Mr Newcombe said.

“It’s a common marketing method to increase the followers of a Facebook page by running competitions offering prizes of free accommodation, meals and liquor. But things soon turn sour when entrants are targeted by scammers.

“Our warning is for people who receive these ‘congratulations, you’re a winner’ messages to be very suspicious and check that the message is from the actual business. Send a message via the original page or call them if in doubt before being led to a fake website and giving away vital personal information that could be used to steal your identity or money.

“It’s also worth knowing that business pages can’t message users direct, so that’s another reason to be wary. Normally, the business will announce the winner in the original post and provide instructions on how to collect the prize.

“Businesses should also be aware of these scams and post warnings as soon as possible if they find out entrants are being contacted in this way.”

Other tips to protect yourself against these scams:

  • Do not accept random friend requests or messages from pages claiming to be from a business – a business page cannot send you a direct message, they can only respond to a message you have sent;
  • Do not click on links sent by someone you don’t know on social media;
  • Get in touch with the legitimate company, using its official contact details, to check if an offer is genuine;
  • Never enter your personal, credit card or online bank account information on a website that you are not certain is authentic;
  • If you have already provided details, contact your credit card provider or bank immediately for advice, as you may need to cancel credit cards and accounts.

For further information or to report a scam, go to the WA ScamNet website or call 1300 30 40 54.

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Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 / alan.hynd@dmirs.wa.gov.au 

Consumer Protection
Media release
19 Aug 2021

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