No, they’re not giving away Range Rovers on Facebook

You’d think by now that people could tell a fake giveaway on Facebook from a real one, but apparently not. There are currently a number of fake car giveaways on Facebook that have gone more or less viral. These giveaways often claim to hand out luxury cars to lucky winners and this time there are several scams regarding Range Rover 2016.

rangerover2016giveaway

How do I know they are fake? Well it’s incredibly simple to find out, but a lot of people don’t think or don’t care. So they participate and help the scammers build up their pages and spam their Facebook friends in the process.

The post above has been shared more than 60,000 times and the pages has now more than 30,000 followers. But it is all fake of course. No brand would give away three expensive luxury cars in a simple contest that so blatantly brakes Facebook’s rules.

If it’s the very first post on the page: Hoax!

If the URL is not a nice and short vanity URL like you’d expect from a large brand: Hoax!

rangerover2016giveaway2

So if you or your friends ever wonder how you can avoid falling for hoaxes like these, then maybe you should check my blog post about “How to spot a fake giveaway on Facebook”.

Fashion app caught using fake LinkedIn profiles

I’m always a bit catious when someone out of the blue wants to connect with me on Facebook or LinkedIn, for example. Often when people want to network, there is some kind of common denominator, like we both now somebody, have worked for the same company or something similar. So when total strangers make friend requests, I always check them out.


I recently got two friend requests from two unlikely individuals, both good looking women working for some fashion app called Okay and with a quite decent background in the fashion industry. One had been Creative Head of Glamour Magazine and the other Vice President of Creations at People Magazine.

Impressive. But why on earth would they reach out to me of all people? Naturally is suspected foul play.

Fake LinkedIn profiles
It didn’t take much investigation to find out that these LinkedIn profiles were completely fake, as were several others from the same app company. First of all, their resumés were very short and looked a lot like each other. Then there was the obvious fact that their profile pictures were stolen, unless one of them was the identical twin of a Miss Ecuador 2012 contestant.

The photo of “Chloe Anderson” is in fact the Norwegian model Polina Barbasova.

linkedin-chloe

linkedin-polina

The photo of “Ella Cooper” is the Venezualan actress Scarlet Ortiz.

linkedin-ella

linkedin-scarlet

And the list continues. More profiles of people said to be working at Okay are in fact fake. “Addison Walter” has the picture of the Miss Ecuador contestant Carolina Aguirre.

linkedin-addison

linkedin-carolina

“Natalie Portman” who runs PR for Okay has taken “her” picture from model Veneda Budny.

Needless to say, I didn’t accept the friend requests.

Why would anyone do this on purpose, one might ask. I suspect the answer is to get in touch with online influencers who in turn would spread the word about the app in social media. But even if I now blog about the app it’s not in a positive way. A marketing strategy involving fake LinkedIn profiles was bound to backfire.

Twitter suspends Zlatan Ibrahimovic parody account without notice

zlatan twitter account

A parody Twitter account with about 90,000 followers was suspended yesterday without warning. The account @ZIbrahomovic has been entertaining Twitter users for almost two years with funny, but fake, quotes from Swedish football icon Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The account has been up front with the fact that it is not the real Zlatan, but that hasn’t stopped several Swedish news outlets from publishing it as real quotes. SVT, the Swedish public service tv channel, once published a fake quote that said:

“If FIFA does not give me the Ballon d’Or I need to talk to Santa Claus”

And Dagens Nyheter, the largest Swedish daily, once published a quote that read:

“Ronaldo will never play in PSG. They don’t produce as much hairspray in France as he needs.”

Both fake, of course. But now the parody account has been closed down without a warning, which is a bit odd, since there are plenty of other accounts that are allowed to continue as long as they state in the Twitter bio that they are not the person or company they pretend to be.

Funny Twitter chat
The closing down of “fake Zlatan” coincides with a hilarious Twitter Q&A that the real Ibrahimovic (@ibra_official) held yesterday under the Nike campaign hashtag #daretozlatan. Whether there is a connection between the two things remains to be seen. Zlatan’s PR Manager has declined that he has asked Twitter to suspend the account.

Metro in the UK has a list of some of the great chat responses from Ibra. Read them here. If you ask me, they are a little to good to be from Zlatan himself, but then again, I’m a born skeptic…

BMW are giving away a brand new BMW M5 on Facebook. Not!

bmw m5 giveaway

Do you think that BMW would give away a brand new car for free on Facebook through a simple “event”? Really? Of course they aren’t. If they would create a giveaway, it would be done professionally in a way that would maximize the return of the investment. Yet, thousands of people think that the simplest of hoaxes is the real deal and gladly accept invitations to a Facebook event, thinking they might actually win a new BMW M5. A new community page is attracting thousands of people to a “BMW M5 Giveaway 2013” (edit: link no longer works) who are encouraged to like the page and invite ten friends. More than 200,000 people have been invited so far. And without any doubt, this is a hoax from start to finish.

So if you care at all whether you are tricked into liking fake pages on social networks, maybe it is time you learn a few basic tricks on how to spot a fake Facebook competition of giveaway. It really doesn’t take a genius.

How to spot a fake giveaway on Facebook

First of all, is it reasonable that a large brand is giving away something really valueable for just a few likes in return? Probably not. The more “upscale” brand, the more quality we can expect in a marketing activity. This event could have been set up by a 10-year old.

Brands use multiple channels to communicate. Is this contest or giveaway communicated on any other place on the web? On the brand webpage or the brand Facebook page? If not, it’s probably fake.

Are you being asked to spam your friends with shares, likes or invites? Big brands try to play by the book. If you are asked to do something that could be considered spam or not following the guidelines of Facebook, it’s a hoax.

Does the page have credible branding? The BMW giveaway is a community page. A brand would not use a community page to promote a new product. And as you see below, the page doesn’t have a branded vanity URL, which you would expect a big brand to use (click on the images to see larger version).

bmw m5 giveaway facebook

Does the page have credible background information? If not, it’s not only a hoax, it’s a lazy hoax.

Did the page just launch or has it communicated trustworthy information for some time? If it is new and the giveaway is the very first post, you should think again.

bmw m5 giveaway facebook

Does the contest or giveaway have a professional touch? If there are several spelling errors in just a few paragraphs, it’s probably fake.

bmw m5 giveaway facebook

Does the information change on the event page? Are  there copies? For a brief second, this giveaway page pointed to a second, similar page called BMW M5 Gift, with the same purpose and it has already attracted hundreds of people who in turn have invited 20,000 others. Once they got the first scam going, this could go on forever.

It’s amazing how easy it is to trick people into liking and sharing pages on social networks. We rarely take a minute to reflect on information that is shared by our friends, and that practice can be easily exploited. So in the future, think before you share.

Oh, and if I win, I would like a white BMW M5…

Update Nov 6: Both BMW pages and events are not gone from Facebook. But there are other similar scams that are still live, like this Audi R8 Giveaway. Also fake, of course.

Generous Danish Lotto millionaire on Facebook is fake

Ok folks, it is time to apply some critical thinking to social media. As I blogged about yesterday, it is incredibly easy to trick thousands of people to like a fake account and even post their email addresses publicly on Instagram. Today I found another example on Facebook that was posted yesterday evening.

A Danish guy says he won 23.5 million Danish kroner on Lotto and that he will choose two people who like his picture who he will give 75,000 DKK. The problem, it is fake.

danish-lotto-winner It took me about 30 seconds to search for the facts on Google. A Danish newspaper wrote about it this morning. According to a representative at Danske Spil, the company behind the Danish Lotto, the coupon in the picture is from February and that no such large prizes were awarded during February. The person in the photo is not a Lotto winner.

The image has been shared 62,000 times since last evening.

Once again, take a second or two to double check if the image you are about to share is fake or not. It might save you some embarrasement.

14,000 people fooled by fake SAS Instagram account

The Instagram account SAS Scandinavian, @scandinavianairlines, promised two tickets to New York including 5 stars (sic) hotel to the first 20,000 people that followed the account. The account quickly attracted more than 14,000 followers.

SAS Instagram fake account

Of course, this was not the official account of the Scandinavian airline, which can be found at @FLYSAS. Instead, the account soon changed name to @s0viknes and it belongs to, it seems, a young Norwegian guy who did this as a prank to get a lot of followers. He boasts: “follow this king who tricked them all”.

Note: I have cropped this photo because it seems the person in the photo was not the person behind the account.

SAS fake account on Instagram

As always, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. If SAS would give away 40,000 airline tickets that would cost about 44 million USD. Plus hotel rooms for 40,000 people. That’s just ridiculous. And you would think that the lousy English spelling would reveal that this was not an official account. Please think before you follow and share hoaxes like these.

And for brands, it is always wise to secure the most apparent versions of your brand name on popular social networks. At least that makes it a bit harder for others to use your brand to scam people.

Update: Several similar fake accounts have apparently appeared the last week. Via @AndersEriksson we can see a screen shot from the fake @emirates_dubai here: http://instagram.com/p/Vb9H-VNmYo/

And one account is pretending to be the Swedish cinema chain SF: @sfbioofficial. It says it will hand out 10,000 movie tickets to people who follow the account and add their email address in the comments to an image. More than 6,500 comments can be found so far, most of them include email addresses to teens and kids. And new comments are still being added every second as I blog this. The official account can be found at @SFBIO.

Parents, you need to have a talk with your kids about scams on Instagram. Found via @kingdeborg and @jonatanahlin on Twitter.

sfbio instagram

Update 2: The account @sfbioofficial changed name to @williammkarlsson, then reappeared with the first name with new followers and new images. @williammkarlsson is now gone, hopefully because it got reported as spam. The scam continues and new comments are added every minute. It seems that the account adds a new image now and then to attract new followers and commenters.