No, you haven’t. I can categorically assure you that you have not. Because the Facebook lottery is not a genuine promotion, it’s a scam. I mean, I’m sure Mark Zuckerberg is a really nice chap and he does have a great record on giving to charity, but he does not select Facebook users at random to receive large payouts – not only is he a pretty busy bloke, the Facebook lottery is not a thing, it doesn’t exist, it’s not real. Have I made myself clear?
Of course, you may think that’s obvious. You may think you’d never fall for a scam like that, but the prospect of winning big is attractive to all of us, and anyone can be vulnerable to scammers, which is why it’s so important that we highlight scams like the Facebook lottery.
The Facebook lottery is a variation on the classic ‘advance fee scam’ or fraud, which works like this. A scammer tells you you’ve won the lottery, but says that to claim your winnings, you need to send them a sum of money. The sum is always relatively small in relation to the size of your promised win – a few hundred dollars perhaps – and might be described as a ‘security deposit’, ‘delivery cost’, ‘conversion fee’ or similar. You send the money in the belief that you’ll receive a much larger sum in return. Of course, you never see the fee again and your winnings never materialise.
There are many forms of this scam, but in the Facebook lottery version the news of your win might come from someone whose friend request you accepted but don’t know and who turns out to work for ‘Facebook Promotions’. It could come in a message from a genuine Facebook friend whose account has been compromised or it could come via a very plausible but fake company Facebook page you’ve liked.
Scammers work hard to build your trust, posting funny memes, engaging you in light-hearted conversation and promoting the causes you support. Then, as the relationship develops, they will claim they work for Facebook and tell you you’re a Facebook lottery winner. They usually say the promotion is to persuade people to use Facebook more or is a thank you to the public for supporting Facebook and making it such a success. They often ask for personal details as well as money, and they can be very persistent.
Don’t respond to the scammer, because it only encourages them. Cut off all contact and unfriend them immediately. Don’t give them any personal details as that makes you vulnerable to identity theft. Don’t give them your bank details and definitely don’t send them any money.
If you have revealed any personal financial information, contact your bank or building society at once. If the scammer emails you outside Facebook, don’t click on any links or download any attachments and forward the email to Facebook. You can also report the scam through the Facebook Help Center. You can also report scams to Action Fraud, the National Fraud and Cyber.
If you’ve been scammed, please share your story with us. Our goal is to help consumers identify genuine prize promotions from those which are fake, and with your help we can create further awareness.
Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist, an IPM Board Director, and a SCAMbassador for National Trading Standards Scams Team.