Facebook users targeted for free Southwest Airlines ticket scams. Photo via Facebook.
Will I ruin my credibility if I admit that the lure of a free Victoria’s Secret gift card temporarily rendered my B.S. meter inoperable? Happening upon a ‘Frugal Parenting’ Facebook page was where I fell for such enticement? (Best underwear ever!) Not only did I fall for it, I gave them my cell phone number! Lucky for me, my brain fart was circumvented by divine intervention when I lost my Internet connection just in time. (What are the chances?) My phone never blew up and I never got the gift certificate.
These kind of ‘freebie’ offers are the latest scams targeting the vulnerabilities of those finding themselves in a relentless financial pinch, along with 200 million other schmucks. While they seem pretty harmless at first glance, it’s the excitement of winning an attainable, mini-lotto that is met with misguided gullibility. The truth is, there are no free gift cards. There are no free Southwest Airlines tickets either. There is no free vacation, no free Gap clothes, no free Target card etc.
Part of the problem — the scam presents itself as a recommendation from a trusted administrator of a site you have ‘liked’ and appears to be credible. Or one of your schmuck friends falls for it and then posts it to their wall and everybody thinks, “Oh, well, Emily did it and thinks it’s the bees knees, I trust her.”
Examples of posts from other Facebook users go something like this:
“I just got my Starbucks gift card. Only 5 minutes of my time and I’m set with coffee for a month.”
“This came just in time for the holidays. I needed a new bra and I have some left over to buy a few gifts. I didn’t have to do anything but take this short survey.”
Or in the latest Southwest Airlines Facebook scam of the same genre:
“i [sic] didnt believe it would work but it was, got it here..[LINK] try for yourself i just figured i would share with everyone.” (Source: consumeraffairs.com)
While many of these scams are passed around through friend to friend wall viruses, many house themselves on legitimate frugal parenting or frugal living Facebook pages where people may find truly legitimate ways to earn a few bucks taking surveys or sharing marketing information. While other Facebook pages are set up solely as a clearing house for these scams. As quickly as Facebook can take them down, new ones crop up with hundreds of erroneous paid ‘likes’.
What are these scammers hoping to accomplish with trying to give away free stuff on Facebook?
While some of these scams use your information to sell to unscrupulous, off shore spammers, other ask you to download software which allows the scammer access to your Facebook account.