Wednesday at 6 AM my fuzzy alarm clock informed me it was time to feed her. (KittyNinja really loves her breakfast) So half asleep waiting for my coffee to do its magic I opened up Facebook and saw that one of my friends had tagged me in a post on the Lithgow Facebook group. The comment was that this post “could be a teaching moment”. I do teach a few different topics so I was not sure what she was talking about but even half asleep I took a look at the post and right away all sorts of alarms went off. It looked like a scam!
I was fast enough to take screenshots before the admin was able to take the page down. I’m going to show you why I know that it was a scam and how the scam would work.
Before we start lets put the blame where is belongs
So I want to say that the moderators of the group and the person who shared this post are not to blame for this scam. The moderators of the group did the right thing and removed the post as soon as they were made aware. This kind of scam is sneaky, at first glance looks innocent enough.
The same goes for the person who posted on the Lithgow group. but this kind of how the scam works. (More about that later)
Lets take a look at the scam
Take a moment and read the post.
Does it look like a scam? Not at first. Nobody is asking for money. They seem to be a fun contest that cost nothing to enter. What could go wrong?!?!?!!?
Remember con artists seldom go for the money right away. They want you to feel safe first. They are willing to wait and they choose their ‘Marks’ carefully (Most of the time )
Let me show you.
To all our amazing fans! We have 2 of
these RVs that have been stored in our
warehouse for a while and will not be sold.
We want them going to 2 of you who have
shared and commented by April 15th. We
will do home delivery for those who get
Let’s break the scam down into it’s parts
Part of my research is breaking scams down phrase by phrase and explaining how they are able to fool people who are normally very intelligent.. Don’t feel bad, scams like this a very subtle. It’s a formula that they have been perfecting for hundreds of years. (Yes this is an old scam delivered in a new way)
Giving a way RVs … ummm too good to be true
“To our amazing fans, we have two RVs that have been stored in our warehouse and will not be sold”
Take a moment and take a look at how much a used or new RV costs in NSW? Once you are done with sticker shock I want you to consider who would have enough money to just give away 200K + worth of prizes on a Facebook page? And just because you shared and commented on a page?
We want them to go to 2 of you who have
shared and commented by April 15th
While it is not impossible it is very unlikely that any company would be willing to do so. That is a lot of money for a few likes on a Facebook page. While this kind of marketing is common … not for that price tag… (There was also something missing see below)
RVs natural habatat is storage
Do you know many people who drive around in an RV all the time? No .. they are mostly in storage. RVs are made to be in storage for a very long time. While they will need some maintenance before taking them on a long trip it’s not enough to give them away for free.
While there may be all sorts of reasons to give away an RV … they have been sitting in storage is not one of them.
Sense of urgancy, no terms and conditions.
A common trick of con artists is to add a time limit on a scam. This makes it so we are less likely to notice the scam. It also means that they can get as many victims caught in the scam as possible before they are discovered.
While it is true that many contests have a time limit they also will have a huge “Terms and Conditions” page so they do not run afoul of the local laws. While giveaways of small items happen all the time without “Terms and Conditions” you better believe that an item that costs $100,000 and requires a valid driver’s licence, and insurance to operate will have all kinds of rules.
This is very important for the later part of the scam. … Wait for it ….. wait for it. I will explain below
I took a look at the page where the scam was posted. What I noticed what that it only had seven posts with over 100K Likes. Do you know how hard it is to get 100K likes? You need a hell of a lot more than seven posts. I have been working on a few pages posting every week for years and I only have 60k. Other than the lack of posts something was missing.
- No Phone number
- No Website
- No Logos
- No Address
- No contact information of any kind
- No ABN
In marketing, you would think that at least some of that information would be in the posts or on the page. Nothing. Zero NADA! A company that is willing to give away $200K worth of prizes would have at least a way for them to sell you an RV? After all that is the whole point…. but nope! This is either a scam or the worst marketing team ever!
So a business is willing to give away $200K but has no means for you to give them money or justify the expense?
Facebook has a feature where you can get more information about the page
So how is a page in the UK going to deliver this RV? While it is not impossible you would think that a company that is going to offer free delivery would have a limit to how far they are willing to ship it… and with gas prices as they are right now?
If you are thinking it would be for the UK only…. that should have been in the “Terms and Conditions”. While I was not able to see this scam in action .. I suspect that the scammer would not care if the “Winner was in NSW and not the UK”
But wait …. remember the delivery is the dangerous part. ….wait for it …. wait for it.
The Page has not been verified yet.
While this is not a major problem. However, considering all the other factors this is a big red flag.
This is another reason why businesses should consider having an actual webpage and not just Facebook. A webpage is tied to an account and can be investigated. I personally do not trust businesses that only have a Facebook page (I’m not the only one who feels this way)
So how does the scam work
The scammers get you to share and comment on the post. This makes it so that Facebook algorithms will show it more often. While this is normal social media marketing it has another sinister purpose.
If you trust the person who shared the post you are more inclined to believe the scammer. After all, you have known Robbert for years. You trust them! So why not trust this post? This is how disinformation works. Throw up a post with false information that is easy to share. Convince someone to share it … their friends will tend to believe it and share it.
Scammers are scumbags. They actually go out of their way to target seniors. They do this because many seniors tend to be uncomfortable/not as tech-savvy on the internet. While they are focused on “How to use Facebook” they are not focusing on the red flags from the scam. And the scammers know it.
There are tattletale signs that someone is not tech-savvy or subject to scams … but that is a whole different topic.
More then two “Winners’
While you might think you are the only winner. The scammer is sending the message “You won!” to anyone who looks like a good “Mark”. Because they do not announce who won everyone assumes they are the only winner. This allows the scammer to use the same scam on hundreds of people.
The scammers get you very excited about the prospect of winning. After all, you just won an RV! The excitement is part of the scam. (Best scams require intense emotions to cloud your judgement)
They take your information
From there they will ask for all kinds of information from you.
- Phone number
- email address
- physcal address
- Drivers licence
While this kind of information is normal for buying a car. This is not a real dealership. If you get this far you may have some identity theft problems in the near future. This way even if you do not pay the scammer, they will sell your information.
They may even have you log into a website where your username and password will be recorded.
Delivery set for a later date
The point of this does two things. When you ask where you can pick up your RV they tell you that they are going to deliver for free. This way they do not have to give you an address. They have your information but you do not have theirs.
This also makes it so that until the delivery date you are not expecting this to be a scam. So while you are waiting the 30 days for the delivery that will never happen they are talking to other people letting them know that “You are a winner”.
Wait there is a small fee.
This could be a fee that actually exists when you buy an RV or it could be a “Temporary insurance”, “Stamp Duty”, ” Processing fee”, or they will make something up. The scammer wants to think that you are going to get a $100k RV for free, so what is the harm in paying $300, $550 or $1000 fee? Except that the tax office will never see that money. Just like you will never see the RV.
While $1000 may not seem like a lot of money remember that they are running this scam on as many people as possible. They may even have a small team of scammers trying to process as many victims as possible.
So how do you protect yourself from this kind of scam?
This kind of scam happens so often it has its own category.
- If it is too good to be true ….guess what it is.
- Do a little research first.. does the page look like a buiness? is something missing like phone numbers, contact information or a webpage?
- Never give out your personal information
- Get a second opinion. (Bank, Police or even a family member)
- When you see a scam report it to Facebook so nobody else gets scammed. (Facebook will not try to catch the crooks but they will take the page down)
- Think twice about sharing “contests”