Facebook Lottery Scam: What It Is and How to Avoid It
Scams are nothing new, but the popularity of social media sites like Facebook have given scammers one more platform to seek out unsuspecting victims. The Facebook lottery scam can take many forms, and we’re going to tell you all about them. The best way to protect yourself from giving away your money is to learn to recognize the signs of a suspicious message. Read on to learn what to look for and how to avoid being scammed.
What is the Facebook Lottery Scam?
Scammers are using Facebook to dupe innocent people out of their money. Essentially, people are using Facebook to contact strangers, telling them they can receive a cash prize from a lottery. The catch is that the target needs to send a fee to receive their money. Optimistic Facebook users then send the requested amount but never receive the promised prize and never hear from the scammers again. And if you do hear from them again, it’s because they will try to squeeze even more money from you.
While the structure of the Facebook scam generally remains the same, there are a few common formats that you might come across.
Facebook Messenger Scam
This approach to the Facebook lottery scam operates through the popular Facebook Messenger app. A unique feature of Messenger is that you don’t have to be friends with someone to receive a message from them. Scammers take advantage of this to contact targets, typically informing them that they work for Facebook as part of their promotions team. They will tell the victim that they’ve been selected to receive a prize for the Facebook International Lottery or the Facebook Freedom Lottery.
After they have established who they are and where the supposed prize is coming from, the scammer will then tell the target that they must send a small fee upfront to receive the money.
Facebook Friends Scam
This approach can take two different forms. The scammer will make a fake profile, or they will create a profile using the name and photos of someone who is already on your friend list. They will then send you a friend request and send you a message. If they are using a name unknown to you, they may send a message similar to what we’ve already covered in the Facebook message scam. If they impersonate someone on your friend list, they will likely tell you they’ve just won a big prize from a lottery that is not associated with Facebook.
In some instances, like in the case of a man named Davin from Australia, scammers may combine two different kinds of scams. Davin first received a message from a stranger who claimed he worked for Facebook. He was skeptical about the news until he received a message from someone posing as Davin’s cousin. The cousin told Davin that he had won the same prize from the Facebook Freedom Lottery and assured Davin that it was the real deal. It wasn’t until Davin had lost $1,500 and revealed his personal information that he realized he’d been scammed.
Mark Zuckerberg Scam
Another way scammers use Facebook to swindle people out of their money is to pose as Mark Zuckerberg, the famous founder of the social media website. Another common high-profile Facebook employee that scammers impersonate is COO Sheryl Sandberg. In a New York Times story from 2018, journalists claimed to have found 208 accounts that pretended to be Zuckerberg or Sandberg, with at least 51 of those profiles engaging in lottery scams.
What to Do if You Are Targeted for the Facebook Lottery Scam
No matter how careful you are about your privacy on Facebook, someone may still try to target you for a scam. If you receive a friend request from someone who is already on your friend list, send a message to them asking if they’ve created a new profile. Make sure that it is not a fake profile before accepting the request.
If you receive a message from a stranger claiming that they’re Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, or any other Facebook employee, remember that there is no such thing as a Facebook lottery. The social media site does not give away money. Additionally, no lottery organization in the world requires winners to pay a fee before they can collect their prize; any that do are definitely lottery scams.
Above all, remember that you should never give away your personal or financial information through Facebook, and never to someone who is not a trusted source. Some scammers may also send a link to a website—but under no circumstances should you ever click on this.
If you suspect you are the target of a Facebook lottery scam, report it to the local police or the federal organization in your country that handles fraud and scams. It is never a bad idea to be too cautious. If you have a bad feeling about a message you’ve received, either ignore it or report it.
Facebook has become a favourite platform for lottery scammers to find new targets. There are various approaches that scammers take to try and trick their victims into giving them money. If you come into contact with someone telling you that you’ve won the Facebook lottery, they are lying—it’s as simple as that. After all, you cannot win a prize from a lottery organization that does not exist!