Social media is no stranger when it comes to scamming people, and it didn’t take long before the lottery was a prime candidate. While many people are savvy enough to avoid rackets like this, it seems some are still falling prey to the Facebook Lottery Scams.
In past decades, scammers used letters to send out messages to unsuspecting members of the public, to extort fees and money from them. Latterly, since the rise of the internet, email has been a prime target. Now, social media is the latest in a long line of ways for criminals to try and con people out of their money. The favored platform to do this is Facebook and, if you were in any doubt about how it happens, read on.
Facebook Lottery Fee Scam
Scammers will typically try one of three methods to try and steal money from people.
‘Official’ Facebook Emails
You check your email inbox, and it looks like you’ve got an official email from the social media platform informing you that you’ve won a lottery prize (even though you’ve not entered one). The email will seem to be genuine, but they aren’t. They come from an email account that has been hijacked to make it look like it’s from an official Facebook account. You’ll be asked to make contact with an agent (a criminal) who will demand money from you when you try and claim your prize.
You may get a friend request from somebody you don’t recognize, and if you choose to accept (which you should never do), the person will claim to be an official from Facebook who is contacting you with a fabulous offer of money. They’ll implore you to follow their instructions, which means you can claim your ‘prize’ – this will usually involve sending them a fee to do so and involve clicking on a fraudulent link. They’ll take your fee and then disappear.
Friend Requests from Real-Life Friends
You may get a friend request from someone you’re already friends with or someone you appear to know in real life. It looks like there’s perhaps been a glitch on the site, and they’ve unfriended you, but they haven’t. Once the request has been accepted, you’ll get a message from that person telling you you’ve won a prize and to click on a link and send money to claim it. In reality, fraudsters have cloned your friend’s Facebook account and are using it to pretend to be the person you know. Sometimes, the fake lottery messages may come from a friend’s account that has been hacked, in which case, report the page and let your friend know as soon as possible.
So you’ve seen how it can be done, but here’s what happened to a few real-life people who were conned by these heartless scammers.
Facebook Lottery Scam Victim #1
Facebook lottery scam victim John was conned out of $200 to claim a fake ‘lottery prize’ that seemed so legitimate it had both he and his partner convinced.
John received an official-looking email that had a copy of a check for $1 million in it. He was convinced it was above board and legal, and he and his partner felt they had genuinely won a huge cash payout. “We actually thought this would be coming,” he said, speaking after news of the crime was released. John wired $200 for the shipping fees the scammers said were necessary to process and send on the payment. Once he sent that, they requested more. “It could have been a lot worse if I had paid that $1,700; I would have lost my house and had my utilities shut off.” John (whose name has been changed to protect his identity) commented
An agent from the FBI who turned out to be fake promised John the lottery was legitimate, but speaking to the Special Agent afterward in charge of Omaha’s FBI Field Office, Randy Thysse, said, “We are not allowed to photocopy or scan in or send by email or social media our credentials.” If anyone claims to be from the FBI and asks you to do this, they are fake and should be reported straight away.
John added, “It’s all a big ruse. It makes it look legitimate, but it’s really not.” Facebook uses automated systems that should stop most hoaxes and block scammers, but they aren’t infallible. The advice from the site themselves and the FBI is that if you get targeted, report it to Facebook and the police straight away.
Facebook Lottery Scam Victim #2
If something sounds too good to be true, then it more than likely is, and that’s the message police are trying to hammer home after an innocent man from Norfolk County lost $100,000 in an appalling act by cowards instigating a different Facebook Lottery Scam.
A spokesman for the police in the county said they’d received word from an extremely embarrassed, angry, and upset man who’d been conned out of a six-figure sum throughout two months by scammers who had illegally targeted him with the promise of a big lottery payout. The man said he received an alert on Facebook telling him that he had won a huge prize and claimed it; he needs to forward the money to pay off fees for claiming and tax.
“Once you see any type of indication that people are asking for money… the red flag should go up,” the Police Spokesman said. “It’s a scam.” He added that there had been plenty of reports of similar scams in the same county with victims of all age groups being hit.
CTV technology analyst Carmi Levy backed up the police spokesman and added
“You need to keep your eyes open when you’re using Facebook, as well as when you’re online in general,” he said.
The advice is not to give any money or personal information out to anyone you don’t know who comes to you claiming you’ve won a lottery prize, especially if it’s for a draw you have never heard of or know you’ve not entered.
Facebook Lottery Scam Victim #3
In California, the police warned about Facebook users being targeted for hoax lottery wins after a couple who believed they’d won a substantial sum sent $495 to scammers via MoneyGram. Of course, the prize didn’t exist, and the couple was cheated out of a great sum of money. The “Facebook Lottery Splash Promo” scam is yet another lottery scam set up to fool innocent victims.
The couple had received this message and had urged anyone else who gets it to report it.
“I’m Marydale Massey, located at Menlo Park California, and I work for Facebook Security Operating Inc. Have any of our online agents informed you about the Facebook lottery splash promo? Well, I am pleased to inform you about the online Facebook promo organized by the CEO of Facebook and all Facebook officials. The online drawing was conducted by a random selection of Facebook profiles by an automated machine; then, your name was selected for the drawing. Have you heard from our office that you are the 2nd grand prize winner for this year’s ongoing Facebook Promo?”
One scammer has even claimed to be the co-founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg as proof of the lottery’s validity! Sheriff’s office officials from California have commented that other Facebook users in the county have reported getting similar text messages like the one above. If you receive one or know anyone that has the advice report it to Facebook and the Police.