When you receive the “good news” that you’ve won, you might be tempted to respond right away and send your personal information or anything else that the sponsor wants to release your prize. But wait! Are you sure that notification is legit? Read these tips and warnings first. By being informed you can verify that you have won a legitimate giveaway and are not being scammed.
Don’t Be SCAMMED!
Learn How To Spot Prize Scams
- No Clear Set of Rules – You should run from sweepstakes that have no rules whatsoever – they are more interested in getting your information than in running a fair contest.
- Want You to Pay to Receive the Prize – Legitimate sweepstakes will never ask you to pay fees to participate or to receive a prize. You should never have to pay handling charges, service fees, or any other kind of charges up front to receive anything you’ve won. Note: Except for rare exceptions such as paying for port fees or hotel taxes, sweepstakes taxes are paid directly to the IRS. Anyone who asks you to pay taxes on prizes directly to them is running a scam.
- You Don’t Remember Entering Contest – You can only win sweepstakes that you enter. If you receive a win notification from a giveaway that you don’t remember entering, it’s a red flag. Maybe you did enter and just don’t remember. Organizing your sweepstakes entries in folders by end date is a good way to keep track. Another way of verifying that your prize win is legitimate is to look up the telephone number for the sponsor and call them to verify your winnings.
- Don’t Know Your Name or Other Info – When have you ever entered and not been asked for at least your first name? Many scammers send fake notifications by mail or email to every address they can get their hands on. If your win notice has a generic salutation like “Congrats Winner” or “Dear Sir or Madam” it’s a good indication that you’re dealing with a scam.
- Ask You to Wire Money or Send a MoneyPak – Criminals love to use services like Western Union because it is nearly impossible to trace who received the money. A new twist on this type of scam is to ask their victims to buy a MoneyPak from retailers like Walmart and CVS. These cards let you transfer money by simply reading out their numbers. Once you’ve done either one, there’s little to no chance of getting your money back.
- You Receive a Large Check with Your Win Notice – To fool you into thinking that a sweepstake is legitimate, scammers will send counterfeit checks along with the win notifications. Note: Cashing a fraudulent check is a crime and in addition to losing any money you wire, you could be liable for fines and fees. A legitimate sweepstake will require an affidavit before sending out any prize valued at more than $600.
- Scam Notifications Arrive by Bulk Mail – Legitimate sponsors send out win notifications by first class mail or by carriers such as FedEx or UPS. However, Scam artists want to send to the largest number of people for the least amount of cost. They do this by using bulk mail.
- Prize Administered by a Government Organization – Real sweepstakes sponsors and giveaway hosts send their win notifications directly to the winners. Sweepstake scammers pretend to be from government organizations such as the “National Sweepstakes Board” (no such thing) or FTC to appear more legit. Government organizations are NOT involved in awarding sweepstakes prizes. Also, federal marshals do NOT hand out prizes.
- Contact You Using a Free E-mail Account – It’s possible that some smaller, legitimate sweepstakes sponsors could notify you with a free email address. But if you receive a win notice claiming to be from a big company from a free account like Hotmail, Yahoo, or Gmail, you can be sure that it is a sweepstakes scam.
- Winning Message Contains Many Typos – Anyone can make a minor mistake when typing out a win notification. Since many sweepstakes scams originate outside of the United States and Canada, watch for errors in spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Finding that there are several, should set off a red flag.
- Pressure You to Act in a Hurry – Sweepstakes scammers want to receive their money before their check bounces or you discover that you are being defrauded. If you feel like you are being pressured to make a decision before you have the time to ensure that the win is legitimate, you should be very suspicious. Note: A sponsor might need a quick answer if the prize is for an event happening soon. However, if there is no good reason for a rush to accept a prize, then it’s probably a sweepstakes scam.
- Ask for Bank or Credit Card Info to Receive Your Prize – You should never hand over this information. It is a huge red flag that you are dealing with a sweepstakes scam. The only sensitive information that a legitimate sweepstake sponsor needs is a social security number. Note: By law, sweepstakes sponsors are required to report prizes awarded to U.S. residents to the IRS if the value is $600 or more. For tax purposes, some sponsors may also choose report prizes of lower values. Just make sure that you are a legitimate winner before you send in your social security number.
- Your “Win” is From a Lottery – It is impossible to win a lottery without buying a ticket. Plus, the lottery will not contact you to tell you that you won. If your win notification says you’ve won a lottery, you can bet your last dollar that it’s a scam. Also, it’s illegal to sell tickets for foreign lotteries across international borders. So unless you were actually in a foreign country and buy a lottery ticket, you can’t win. Note: There is NO such thing as a “free” lottery. All lotteries must charge in order to have money to give away. Check the Names of Known Fake Lotteries, Sweepstakes, and Promotions.
- Too Good To Be True Rule – Remember the saying “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.” If you feel like something is a little off, be careful and check it out before proceeding. Names used by scammers often belong to real people and businesses who often have no knowledge of nor connection to the scammer’s use of their name and information. Don’t enter a giveaway “just in case” and don’t share them with your friends and family, because that puts them at risk, too.
- Your Due Diligence Is Not Enough – You’ve followed all the tips and done everything you could to avoid being scammed, but still got taken advantage of by one. Think you’ve been scammed? Don’t let them get away with it! Learn How To Report Them And File a Complaint Reporting scammers to the authorities is your first step toward shutting them down.
- Facebook Like Farming – Is a technique in which scammers create an eye-catching post designed to get many likes and shares. Posts often give people emotional reasons to click, like, and share, such as adorable animals, sick children, the promise to win big, or political messages. Sharing a scam only helps spread it. Therefore, social media users who have already shared a scam post are asked to remove their like and/or delete their post. Why do they do this? It is a way to steal personal information. Sometimes when the scammer collects enough likes and shares, they will edit the post and could add something malicious, such as a link to a website that downloads malware to someone’s device. Other times, once they reach their target number of likes, they can sell the page on the black market or strip the page’s original content and use it to promote spammy products themselves.
- It’s April Fools Day – It seems silly, but if you find a giveaway which just seems too good to be true… maybe you need to check the calendar.
- Don’t Grant Permissions When you click to “accept” third party permissions, you often don’t know what you are agreeing to. Allowing scammers access to your device information can compromise your identity and grant them access to personal information.
- Don’t Complete Surveys – Finally, some scammers ask you to complete a survey to be entered into their competition. These surveys can then install malware on your computer.
Known Scam Sites and Scams:
DON’T enter or use links found on Dealmaxx. The sweeps hosted by Dealmaxx are fake. Its bait to get more fans to his page to enter his links. The links posted on that group/page are Arthur Frischman’s personal links disguised to look like you are entering a sweep but its actually giving him referrals and putting him at the top of almost every leaderboard. 🛑 He also has a group called Sweeps & Freebies!!
I’ve also been made aware that Ginger from ToastyEgg also engages in this deceptive practice! While I have two independent sources for this information, I have not been able to verify it to my total satisfaction yet.
SCAM ALERT!!! tootsiegift(dot)blogspot(dot) com Stay away from this site and any giveaways that they have on Facebook, too. They are fake!!! TIP Before entering any giveaway, watch for misspellings and you will reduce your chances of falling for fake sites. On their Facebook page, they have misspelled Tootsie Roll in two different places. If you want to enter to win a prize from this company you do it here: https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FTootsieRollHotCocoa%2F
SCAM ALERT!!! Just like the company above, Buzz Bee Toys is also being spoofed by fake accounts notifying many of their followers that they have won a contest. If you receive a (Public) message on your shared post, please report the profile. The real company will only contact winners via direct message. Also, the real company will NOT send you a friend request. If you want to enter their contests you can do so here: https://www.facebook.com/buzzbeetoysinc/
KNOWN SCAM!!! This information was taken from the REAL RANDOM.ORG site. If you watch a live stream, you might think that you can trust that what you see is really happening, i.e., someone is really using a randomizer to select the winner. Even if you’re watching a recording after the giveaway happened, you might feel the recording gives the giveaway some legitimacy. After all, you’re seeing it with your own eyes, right? The problem is that what you see in a live stream or a video might not be what is really happening. What you may be seeing is a fake lookalike, an impostor web site, constructed to look exactly like the real site. The results have been rigged by the broadcaster to pick the winner he wants. When the people at RANDOM.ORG first examined some of the giveaway videos, they couldn’t tell the difference between the real and fake sites. So they designed a new service called Multi-Round Giveaway Service. This allows you to go to a source you know to be the real deal (their site opened in your own browser) and verify that what you saw in the video really happened. To verify it is a real giveaway take the verification code that is generated in the video and go to their site, select multi-round giveaway service under paid services, and enter the code on that page. Don’t worry there is no cost to the entrant to do this.
LATEST TO GOOD TO BE TRUE SCAM The “RV post” is the latest in a recurring and seemingly never-ending rotation of Facebook contests that look too good to be true. That’s because they are. While there are real giveaways on Facebook, most of those contest posts are fake. Whether it’s to win an RV, a tiny house, a dream cruise, or a shopping spree at the local supermarket, you are not going to win by liking and sharing a page or post. So to avoid giving your information and likes to these unscrupulous people you’ve got to watch out for the red flags. NBC’s affiliate in Indianapolis, WTHR Channel 13, has an excellent post with tips to do it. In it, they give these tips.
In the “Page Transparency” section of the company’s Facebook page, it often shows the bogus page was created just weeks, if not days, earlier. A well-established company will likely have a Facebook page that was created much longer ago.
Next, look at the timeline. If a contest page has just one post, but tens of thousands of likes, that should be an immediate warning light to move along. Companies build Facebook followings with regular posts over time, especially those with six-figure followings.
One of the current trends with these contests is a post that says something to the effect of “unfortunately, our first winner (insert name and hometown here), was ineligible to claim the prize,” due to age or other violations of the non-contest’s “rules.” In fact, as soon as you see that, it’s probably a good idea to move on immediately.
Check the “About” section of the contest page. If there’s no official-looking email or phone number, that’s a red flag. Remember that anyone can make up a Gmail address and can even make it look “official.”
Finally, look at the pictures being used to show off the prizes. In the case of the tiny house, WFMY found the photo being used to advertise the contest was ripped from a Pinterest post.
But it’s most important to trust you instincts, no matter how tempting the prize.
How to spot fake Instagram giveaways:
- The giveaway account is a famous brand name, but it’s not verified. Look for that iconic blue tick next to famous brand names or celebrity usernames.
- The giveaway isn’t mentioned on the brand’s website or other social media. Brands love to tell people about the giveaways they run! If you can’t find any mention of the giveaway on the brand’s other channels, then it might not be real.
- The giveaway account has just been created. There are no posts in their feed, just the giveaway. Of course, it could just be a new brand, but be wary.
- Check the giveaway rules and the profile information (such as the bio link or email address) to make sure that it’s legitimate.
- The giveaway account doesn’t have any followers or recent activity. Most real giveaways come from well-established accounts, with plenty of active followers. Be suspicious of accounts which have very few followers, or no activity. A sudden spike in activity after months of downtime can also be a warning sign.
- There are spelling mistakes or translation errors in the giveaway post. If you see spelling mistakes, blurry images, or basic language errors, then you could be looking at a fake giveaway.
- The giveaway post uses stock images or stolen images. If you notice photos which are obviously generic or used without permission, then you should be suspicious. A brand or influencer offering a specific prize should have their own photos. If you’re not sure, try running the photo through a quick Google Image search to see if it’s been posted before.
- The giveaway is designed to trick you. Many fake giveaways use photos and text that are designed to confuse or trick you. An enter button or spin actuator that won’t work no matter how many times you click it is also a warning sign.
- The giveaway asks you to complete too many tasks. If a giveaway asks you to follow hundreds of people, or complete a long list of tasks, then it’s probably fake! This includes loop giveaways.
- The giveaway is based on the number of followers. Will giveaway when we get to x number of followers, a prize that increases for every x number of followers, or requires you to have x number of followers to win. If you see a giveaway with a minimum number of followers, especially if it’s very high, then it’s probably fake.
- Commenting or tagging more people gives you more chances to win. Comments and tags are a great way to run a giveaway, because they can be used to pick a random winner. But if someone promises you more chances to win with extra tags and comments, that’s spam. You should only ever have to comment once to take part. It is recommend that brands only ask for 3-5 tags per person.
- The giveaway post uses lots of random hashtags – especially if they’re irrelevant – then it may not be a real giveaway.
- You can’t find any contact information or the organizer doesn’t answer your messages, then you should be suspicious.
- If you don’t see terms and conditions, that’s an instant red flag. Every online giveaway legally has to include terms and conditions. This should include information, such as the name and contact details of the giveaway organizer, how to enter, how the winner will be selected, what happens to your information, etc.
- The organizer chooses a winner based on activity, or by hand. The only way to pick a winner fairly is to use a random, automatic tool.
- As with giveaways on other platforms, the prize is too good to be true. Be cautious about a giveaway which offers huge prizes, especially if the prize is via money transfer or from a small brand.
Report fake Instagram giveaways. If you’re sure the giveaway is fake, then you can report it to Instagram. Tap the “three dots” symbol in the top right-hand corner of the giveaway post, and choose “report”. You can also report the organizer’s profile in the same way. Once you’ve reported the giveaway and organizer, don’t forget to block them.
How Scammers Use Facebook
To seem legit, scammers create fake pages that look like it belongs to someone you’d trust: a big company or a famous person like a well-known star or a popular celebrity. Because these scammers steal logos, photographs, and other graphics to make the page look like it belongs to the person or company they are imitating these pages look legitimate and trustworthy. You can learn some important information with Facebook’s Page Transparency tool. It is located in the right column on every page and with it you can find out when the page was created and any name changes it’s had.
One scam that they do is once they have built up enough followers to appear believable they contact those followers to tell them they’ve won a prize. Most of the time if a company posts a giveaway on Facebook, then they will also post it on their website. Go to their site and check to see whether there is any information about the competition. If not, it’s probably a scam. Another scam is that when you enter a real giveaway the fake page will comment on your shared giveaway post saying that you’ve won and direct you to a fake site to try to get you to give them your personal information.
The purpose of many of these scams is to collect “likes and shares” for a particular entity, whether an individual user or a company using dodgy tactics to get its product promoted online. Facebook doesn’t help in this matter, either. The more likes and shares that a particular giveaway scam gets, the more likely it is to appear in random news feeds, encouraging yet more people to click and share. Eventually, it spreads like wildfire throughout the network, giving the scammers all the data they need. When you are sure that you are dealing with a fake account or giveaway, report it to Facebook. Once you’ve reported the giveaway and organizer, don’t forget to block them.
Be Wary of Friend Requests from Celebrities or Brands There are millions of people on Facebook. So, unless you happen to have a personal relationship with a celebrity, it’s unlikely that they’re going to ask you to be their Facebook friend. Brands and Influencers are going to have pages not profiles. Pages can not send friend requests.
CHECK MY TIPS TO HELP YOU WIN MORE AND THE DAILY DAZZLE GIVEAWAY LINKY WITH EVEN MORE GIVEAWAYS TO ENTER HERE.