Scams offering jobs, grants, loans, giveaways and easy ways to make money are common on Facebook. They lure sometimes desperate people with a way out of financial difficulty – but may end up costing them instead.
How can you avoid being conned? Here are some tips to help you spot Facebook scams.
Badly written posts
Poor writing, spelling and grammar is a good sign of a scam.
Posts that ask for money
Scams that directly ask for money are the easiest to spot. This is common in job scams, where to apply for the job you have to pay an “application” or “registration” fee. Some giveaway scams that offer, say, free gas cylinders ask for a “booking” or “delivery” fee.
The fee is relatively small, usually about US$3 to $5. But the scammers can make a large sum if enough people are fooled.
Being asked to pay upfront is a clear sign that something is fishy. Job offers and giveaways from legitimate companies don’t come with a fee.
Posts that link to an unrelated website
Then there are scams that make false offers to lure users to websites that earn advertising revenue for their owners.
Say you’re browsing Facebook and see a post advertising flash sales at an appliance store. Interested, you click on the link. But instead of going to the store’s official website, it takes you to a basic-looking website, usually run by a free or easily set up content management system such as Wordpress or Webflow.
These websites are filled with colourful banners and pop-up adverts that website owners use to earn money from views and clicks.
The tactic is also used in job scams.
Whenever you click a link on Facebook, be sure to check whether the URL or web address matches the company named in the post.
Posts that tell you to like, share, comment and inbox
Other “competition” posts tell users to quickly spell out a certain word in the comments before anyone else.
These are examples of engagement bait – posts that ask people to interact by liking, commenting on or sharing. The more people do this, the greater the Facebook page’s reach.
Some genuine competitions will ask Facebook users to like and share. But be wary of strange requests to comment and send inbox messages – especially when you are asked to share personal information.
What can you do?
You’ve come across a Facebook post that you’re pretty sure is a scam. What can you do? Importantly, don’t hit share! Facebook scams thrive on reach so, instead of spreading the dodgy post further, just keep scrolling.
Report the suspected scam to Facebook by clicking on the top right of the post. Click “report post” and choose the option that best describes the issue. Facebook will review it and remove anything that violates its community standards.
Trust your instincts. If a post looks fishy, it’s probably a scam. And remember the golden rule – if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.