Beware Facebook pages offering gifts

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Who wouldn’t want the chance to win £85 worth of Asda vouchers in the run-up to Christmas? After all, £85 would make a reasonable dent in anyone’s Christmas shopping bill and, as Asda’s current slogan has it ‘Save money. Live better’ (or, in the words of a rival supermarket chain, ‘Every little helps’).

A decent Christmas dinner discount would be a much-appreciated present and it’s certainly what seemed to be on offer on a Facebook page called Asda Stores, where customers were encouraged to like, share and add the comment ‘Thanks’ in order to enter a prize draw for the money-off coupons. However – and you probably don’t need to be the Christmas fairy to divine what’s coming next – it was a fake page and a scam.

Before it was taken down, interactions with the page had run into the thousands and a lot of people seemed to have decided that they had nothing to lose by liking, sharing and commenting. Unfortunately, though, they were taking a big risk and may now find themselves bombarded with inappropriate marketing messages, targeted by sophisticated and persistent scammers or, if they’re really unlucky, in a few weeks’ time, perhaps before they’ve even had a chance to digest their turkey with all the trimmings, they’ll discover that their identity has been stolen.

The fake profile offering Asda vouchers does seem to have disappeared now, but I came across another Facebook page, this time called Love Asda Stores. Although 87 people had liked it and 97 had followed it, when I perused it wasn’t much there to like or follow apart from a couple of photos that could have been the interior of an Asda – green was certainly in abundance – and a few recent reviews. One of these read, “Won’t let me cancel as I clicked the picture – now wants £2.50 a message.” The other said, “This is a con that I don’t want anything more to do with – please erase my number.”

This makes me angry and upset – and the woman who politely says “please”, even though it’s more than likely she’s dealing with cynical criminals intent on stealing from her in one way or another, absolutely breaks my heart. So, in case I haven’t made myself clear enough, I think the Love Asda Stores page is a scam, just like the Asda Stores page.

Why do I think that? There’s no tick in a little blue circle after its name to show it’s a verified page, the About section hasn’t been completed, it doesn’t have much ‘history’ as it was only created quite recently (at the end of September), and there’s very little content on it. However, digging around a bit, under the Info and Ads section I found what are described as ‘ads that Love Asda Stores is currently running in your location’.

There were three of them, all apparently pictures of Asda stores (although to my mind only one featured enough of that distinctive green) and all headed, “Can you find the shopping basket in the picture below? Click on it to see what’s inside! #find #deal #shop.” Now I’m not really a gambling girl, but if I were I’d be willing to bet that’s what the reviews I read related to.

I don’t know what happens if you click to enter one of these mini-competitions, and I’m not going to find out, tempting though it is, because I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be anything good. I would strongly advise you not to click either, to remain cautious and to remind your nearest and dearest to be cautious, too.

To end on a somewhat lighter note, though, while writing this post I got enjoyably side-tracked by some historical research into Asda’s former marketing campaigns. Of course, there was the famous ‘pocket tap’, which has been used off and on over the years, and in the early 90s the classic line ‘It ’asda be Asda,’ but back in the mid-80s they had, ‘You’d be off your trolley to go anywhere else.’ I can’t really believe they used this, but it seems they did, and it’s got to be my favourite.

Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist and a National Trading Standards Scams Team Scambassador. 

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