At this time of year, who doesn’t want to escape to the sun and the opportunity to win a holiday in Bali is definitely tempting. It might be the rainy season there right now, but the temperature still averages 25 C, which is considerably warmer than East London.
It’s a Facebook prize draw and to enter all you need to do is share and comment on the post. It won’t take a moment and, who knows, you and three close friends or, OK, family members could soon find yourselves winging your way to an island paradise.
Of course – and you know what’s coming here – please don’t click, because it’s another Facebook scam. The page is called Virgin Holidays Australia and it certainly looks authentic, because there’s a picture of Sir Richard Branson himself handing over a red envelope, presumably containing airline tickets, to a lucky previous winner.
However, with a quick bit of Internet detective work you can see that the photo has been lifted from elsewhere and Photoshopped – in the original it isn’t an envelope and it isn’t red, but the other elements are the same. It’s true Branson likes a photo opportunity, so the scammers had plenty of shots to choose from, but this one shows the Virgin boss with a Nigerian fashion entrepreneur called Eseoghene Odiete who won an Apprentice-style business competition sponsored by Virgin, back in 2015. At least someone won something anyway.
Other clues that it’s a scam include the fact that the page doesn’t have a blue tick, so the Facebook account isn’t verified and genuine, and the mangled language, which purports to be written by Sir Richard himself. Although, he’s famously dyslexic and left school at 16, I imagine he can string a basic sentence together and if he can’t he has people who can to do it for him. As I’ve said before, poor spelling and grammar usually indicate a scam, although there’s a reason for that.
So what’s the purpose of this page, other than to make you long for warmer climes and a winter getaway? Well it’s been set up for like farming and the aim is to collect likes, so that the page can be sold on to other scammers. There’s quite a market in like farming and likes can retail at a few dollars per thousand. The new owners then use the page to launch other scams, perhaps designed to steal personal financial information, or as a base for spamming you with marketing for products or services you definitely don’t want and which are probably pretty dodgy.
This Virgin Holidays Australia Bali holiday competition page doesn’t have a lot of likes at the moment, so let’s keep it that way. If a friend shares this or a similar scam (and there are many), don’t respond, stop dreaming of relaxing on a golden, sun-kissed beach and put another jumper on. That’s what I’m going to do.
Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist and a National Trading Standards Scams Team Scambassador. There are a number of nice jumpers in her wardrobe and she makes good use of them.