Facebook is easily the most popular social networking platform around today. As of June 2019, the platform boasted 1.59 billion active users per month! With a user base that large, it is somewhat inevitable that some people would use the system to get up to mischief. In this article, we will look at the Facebook lottery scam, the various forms in which it is circulating in and how best to avoid it.
What Is the Facebook Lottery Scam?
The Facebook lottery scam is similar to most other scams. It occurs when scammers target specific people and try to con them out of either their money or their personal details. The people that become targets are often the elderly or people who are not aware of scams and are therefore not watching out for them.
The Facebook scam has been around for a while already, and it doesn’t look like it will be going away any time soon. That being said, thanks to the new security features that are continually being introduced to Facebook, the ability of users to report these scams and get the scammers banned from the platform is increasing significantly. This, in turn, makes scammers slightly more cautious about their activities.
How Does It Work?
Like almost all online lottery scams, the first part of the Facebook lottery scam is contact. This occurs when the scammer, who may pose as a Facebook employee and attach a scan of his or her ID, either sends the intended target a message via the Facebook Messenger app, writes on their wall or tags them in a post. This may occur before or after the scammer has “friended” the target. Because of this, it is best to have your security settings arranged so that people who are not part of your friend list can’t message you (if and where possible).
These posts generally state that the target is the recipient of a large prize. Usually, the message will indicate that the users’ name was drawn at random from an extensive list of active Facebook users. This is one of the more clever scams because by explaining that to users, they dispel the target’s questions about winning a lottery that they have not entered into.
After making contact, scammers will try to get one or both of the following things from the target:
- Personal Details: Scammers will attempt to con people out of their personal details. These details could be their Facebook account credentials, their personal identification number or even their banking details. The scammers will use all these details to commit identity fraud and could also get the target of their scam in some trouble by using their identity when committing crimes.
- Advanced Payment: The most common form of scam includes requesting an advanced payment. This is when the scammer tells the target of their scam that to process their claim and release their prize money, they will need to make a payment to cover administration fees. If you do happen to make these payments, there is an incredibly good chance that you will not hear from the scammer again-mainly because they already got what they were out for. And if you do hear from them, it’ll be because they sensed you might be a sucker who they might be able to squeeze even more money out of. It might be hard to believe, but some people have been duped out of thousands of dollars this way.
These scams circulate around Facebook and could possibly reach thousands of people within a short space of time. Therefore, it is always best to be vigilant when on social media in order to try and avoid becoming the victim of a scam.
Tips for Avoiding This Scam
Due to the frequency of these types of scams, it is always best to know what to look out for. Below are some tips that are specific to these types of scams that will help you to navigate Facebook more safely.
- Never accept friend requests from people that you do not know-especially if they are from a different country. There is a high likelihood that these people are scammers and are trying to friend as many people as possible in order to perpetuate their scam.
- Don't believe anyone is who they say they are just because they showed you their employee ID (like the one pictured on the right). Anyone with even moderate Photoshop skills can create something like that surprisingly quickly.
- If you receive any messages stating that you have won any type of prize, immediately report it to Facebook and block the user. If you happened to notice that the person that sent you a message has any mutual friends with you, it’s best to warn those friends as well.
- Never give out any personal details to anybody on social media. Remember, Facebook will NEVER ask you for any of your personal information. Anybody who is asking for your details is probably doing it with an ulterior motive.
- As a standard, never believe that you have won any lottery that you do not remember entering into. Facebook does not have, nor will probably ever have, random draws that award winners prize money.
- Never click on any links that people send to you on Facebook that take you away from the Facebook domain-unless you know exactly what it is and you 100% trust the person that sent it to you. External links could potentially direct you to a variety of unsavoury websites that you would be better off not visiting because they could infect your PC with malware or viruses.
Facebook is an incredibly useful tool that can be used to connect with friends and family around the world. Unfortunately, it is also the haven of plenty of unscrupulous people who prey on those who don’t know better. Luckily, by ensuring that you never accept invites from anybody you don’t know and making sure that your account security is properly configured, you can reduce your risk of falling victim to the Facebook scams discussed above.