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Scams 31 October 2018

No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (Or Chocolate In This Case)

Everyone will have countlessly heard that “if something is too good to be true, it probably is,” yet time and time again people fall for the same lazy Facebook scams. My Mum was one of these people.

She had shared the above post on her Facebook, claiming that chocolate manufacturer Cadbury would be rewarding anyone and everyone with a free chocolate hamper to celebrate their 194-year anniversary. Hardly likely. The promise of free chocolate caused all logic to go out of my Mum’s head and she blindly clicked the link; gave her name, date of birth and email address and allowed the scammers to share their post through her Facebook account.

Yes, she looked a bit foolish, but was there any real harm done? I decided to create a Facebook account to go through the process myself to find out.

So Much Chocolate, So Many Scams

Searching ‘Cadbury’ into Facebook gives you a very extensive list of posts similar to and including the one my Mum fell for.

I first looked for the 194-year anniversary scam, however this link is no longer active, but almost 200,000 people shared it. According to website Hoax-Slayer , clicking the post opens a website that claims that you can get your free chocolate basket by answering a few questions and sharing their post on Facebook. After sharing, you are instructed to click a “Claim Now” button which opens various websites that promise further prizes in exchange for completing surveys.

I moved on to the next one to see what would happen. – seems legit – at least 653 people so far have thought so.

Most Of My Friends Are Imaginary

All that effort on getting the colour scheme right, only to put 149£. Scrolling down this page leads to “comments” and photos from several happy people who have received their free basket.

Don’t be fooled – none of this is real. 45,059 people haven’t liked it, none of these people are real and the photos are undoubtedly stolen.

Clicking on the names shows that they are fake links. Just in case you were unsure of their legitimacy at this point. So, what are the scammers trying to achieve? You get asked some questions about chocolate and Cadburys. No matter how you answer them, will create this loading page.

And brings us to this landing page – something seems familiar about this offer. It’s not uncommon for scammers to keep creating new sites once one has been taken down, so it is probable this is the same people who created the original scam my Mum fell for.

It doesn’t actually matter if you complete Step 1 or not. This is just a way for the scammers to spread their reach on Facebook and get more people to come to their site.They’ve also used a timer here to create a sense of urgency. Like everything so far this is also fake and simply resets itself once it has counted down.What happens when we click to “Claim Now” – I’ve filled in the questionnaire, I’ve shared it on Facebook; I want my free chocolate dammit.

Ok, Hand Over The Chocolate!

Sadly, we are just taken to another site. No promise of free chocolate this time, instead we are prompted to enter a competition to win a free holiday. The logo has been stolen from an actual competition that ran in 2015 and altered slightly.

After putting in my real name, email and date of birth; I needed to give my address and mobile number. Voucher? I thought I was entering into a competition? I’d like to think that at this point alarm bells would be ringing.

And so finally we are brought here. The purpose of the scam now becomes apparent; by clicking the “Join Now” button you will be consenting to be charged £1.50 for up to 3 SMS alerts a week. You will also have given away your personal data and therefore leave yourself vulnerable to spam email, post, text messages and phone calls and potentially worse, malicious malware phishing attacks.

We can’t solely rely on Facebook and Internet Search Engines to protect us. It isn’t good enough to use the internet but not inform ourselves of internet safety as if that’s for a younger generation – looking at you here Mum. Hopefully reading this will have helped you spot some of the warning signs in the future. Companies like Cadbury do regularly run competitions and promotions on Facebook, but if in doubt always look for the blue tick.