Last week we looked at the increasing trend on Social Media for scammers to use multiple domain names for the same adverts. But that isn’t the only approach that those who want to steal our personal and financial information use. Let’s look this week at how the bad actors play on our incessant need to grab a bargain.
But first we need to make a very important, clear statement. Despite what you may see, it is very rare for major brands to give away something in exchange for a like, share, comment or retweet. It doesn’t matter how benevolent they may seem, you need to ask yourself one simple question before you engage. Why?
In our COVID-driven, recession-fuelled need for a bargain, we often leave sense at the door when it comes to giving away our personal and financial details online. There is a belief that if there is a logo in an advert it is genuine. Social Media wouldn’t let anyone pretending to be someone else advertise on their network after all, right?
Wrong. Fraudsters use exactly the same methods to win “customers” as genuine brands, whether that is via SEO, email marketing, cold calling and extensive use of social media. Many platforms allow advertisers, whether they have good intentions or not, to target their adverts to have the most impact or return on investment. They use a strategy to grab attention, create interest and then watch their offers grow as unassuming social media users share the information among their networks, creating multi-layers of opportunity from one initial, low cost, advert.
Let’s take the advert below as an example. For those who aren’t aware, Argos is an established High Street brand in the UK that sells a wide range of goods through their stores. You can go online, choose the products you want and either have them delivered or collect in store. However, they would never choose to advertise in this way.
For starters, let us ignore the poor grammar and spelling but concentrate on the offer. Argos has 50 “Curved” TVs. The picture shows they are Samsung TVs. Why not say that for a start? Perhaps because the word Samsung would be picked up by the Social Media platform as a brand name and be more likely to be scrutinised.
Secondly, why would Argos be prepared to give them away. What is stopping them selling them? If there was little damage, why wouldn’t they sell them as such? Retailers also have insurance that covers for stock damage which for 50 TVs would be worth a few thousand pounds.
Third. Why do you think the only criteria is to share and like the post? Because by liking and sharing it give authenticity to the offer. If 2,000 people like something it doesn’t sound fishy at all. They have 50 to give away and so it becomes very easy to choose 50 (or almost certainly more than 50) at random from the likes to give the TV’s away to. Except they aren’t giving them away totally for free. In scams like this you will be asked to pay a delivery or an admin/insurance/warranty fee – maybe something small like £50 but if 100 people are all doing the same, there is a nice profit from a small ad at minimal cost. Naturally, there isn’t any TV and once the money has been paid, the “brand” will disappear.
Looking at the advert itself is enough to surely make you realise all is not well. The spelling (aloud rather than allowed, fulling instead of fully) and the grammar (capital R in Returned, TV’s rather than TVs) would not pass inspection with any brands who were advertising on or off line, whilst there is no branding in the photos that would back up this was a genuine offer.
Major brands do not offer goods and services this way. Whilst we may want to believe it is true and the general altruistic values they may have, there is no value for them in doing this.
The more people that do engage, like and share, the more the fraudsters will continue with their nefarious campaigns. We all have a part to play in this. Always question why a brand may be offering such deals, bargains or the like and remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!