One of my clients called me on Friday and told me he was getting calls and emails from complete strangers around the country asking where their free product was. I initially thought his site may have been hacked, but a quick Google search uncovered a pretty big scam that's been going on for a while. Someone somewhere used his business information and created a Facebook Place page making an offer of a free item in exchange for a like.
The product photo was initially hosted on Dropbox, and a Google search for that Dropbox directory uncovered an additional six pages, plus an additional page that just went up today. I'm going to list the pages I uncovered with the locations and type of businesses, but I'm not going to identify them, because the businesses are victims here.
A fake page for a New Jersey pizza parlor offering a free apron A fake page for the same New Jersey pizza parlor offering a free oven mitt A fake page for the same New Jersey pizza parlor offering a free pizza cutter (This poor pizza restaurant has over 70,000 likes now from people sharing this offer without verifying it!) A fake page for a Pennsylvania caterer offering a free olive oil sprayer (Over 2,000 likes) A fake page for a Virginia massage therapist offering a free head massager (Almost 5,000 likes) A fake page for a Texas aloe vera company offering a free aloe vera sample (Over 57,000 likes) A fake page for a California cosmetics company offering free makeup brushes (Over 58,000 likes) NEW! A fake page for a California company offering a free beach bag (Only 678 likes so far, but just started today)
I contacted Dropbox and they immediately suspended the account when I sent them links to all the fake pages. Saturday morning, all of the product images were moved to the same account on Cloudfront, which is an Amazon web services company. I sent a list of pages and files to Amazon web service's abuse email on Saturday and never heard a peep back. In the future, if you aren't sure about the veracity of a Facebook offer, check the URL of the procuct image on the free offer landing page and if it starts with d1sf0m8kms36pp.cloudfront.net, it is definitely a scam.
I'm not quite sure what the motivation was to set up these pages, but I would guess it's just to collect valid email addresses for spam purposes. Each of these pages uses the same script to collect contact information. When you fill out the contact form and submit it, you'll be redirected to a fake offer on an outside web site. Clicking that offer takes you back to Facebook where you are given the option of sharing the fake offer. The only other thing I could think of would be if somehow the redirected pages are loading adware or spyware or malware through your browser.
The real issue as I see it is that Facebook will allow anyone to claim to be a business and set up a business page without verifying their identity, and there's no mechanism to contact security at Facebook to let them know about these scams so they can deal with them immediately. Instead, they require the victims of these scams to verify who they are before they'll turn the pages over; in my client's case, Facebook said it would take a week for them to investigate the issue. In the meantime, this scammer is impersonating these businesses and cross-linking their scam pages (for example, the NJ pizza place links to the PA offer, and the PA offer links to the new CA beach bag offer), all the while collecting the email addresses under false pretenses.
The easiest way to spot these scams, beyond looking for the hosting of the images, checking the script of the page to see what it looks like, and actually visiting the real web site of the business to see if they say they're on Facebook, is to simply ask yourself whether it would make sense for this small local company to give out a free item to thousands of people across the country who would never actually patronize their business. For example, the Jersey pizza joint now has over 70,000 likes, meaning that they'd be spending over $100,000 to send out free pizza cutters, aprons, and oven mitts if these fake offers were true. How would that make sense for them?
Edited to add: Another scam page pointed out to me this morning is free diet pills from a nutritional supplement store in California. (Over 3000 likes)... this one has the image hosted on Cloudfront.net on a different account, which when seached, uncovers additional fake offers like a free towel from a Florida fence company and free soap from a salon in New Jersey.
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posted: Jul. 9, 2012 @ 10:54p
Just a new variation of a very old revenge prank scam.
When I was a kid, people seeking revenge on somebody or against a business would pass around flyers saying that Mr.x or the business was giving away a free TV or $5 cash to anyone who returned this flyer along with a sack of garbage ('to be recycled') on Sunday morning at 6am.
Hundreds of people would go there and become very angry when they did not get their promised gift!
This Facebook Hijacking phenomena, in which scammers phish for personal information, has been very active as of late. These people running these scams take the info they get and sell them to junk mail lists and email spammers. They therefore make money. 70,000 likes ads up to a little chunk of change in their pockets. Multiply that by at least a dozen of these Facebook Hijacks, and the value paid for each valid snail mail and email address; quite a lucrative business.
But there are several signs that the Facebook page is a Hijack of a legitimate business. 1) The business page has NO link to a Facebook presence. If they really had a FB page, they would have a link on their company website. 2) The freebie is an item that is not your typical freebie, and is not an inexpensive freebie. It wouldn't be economically feasible for a company restricted to certain geographical service locations, to give an item costing several dollars to any yahoo across the country (one even is sending their freebies to Canada and Australia, really? People fall for this? The cost of shipping alone would be insane. Who in Australia and Canada are going to visit a NY/NJ Pizza shop?) 3) The sign-up form can be submitted without imputing any data in the fields. Leave them blank and click the submit button, and you will get a confirmation, and you will also get... 4) When submitting, a pop-up from known spammers Quality Health or Lifestyle Advantage (I suspect they are one and the same), or an offer for free MAC or Mary Kay Makeup. To get the makeup, you must spam your FB friends, and also like the QH/LA stuff, you have to do the bronze, silver, gold, platinum offers. If you fail to complete the offer, or a merchant fails to report to the fulfillment agency that you completed it, no free makeup (or whatever freebie that QH/LA is offering). In the meantime, you have likely signed up for trials which you must cancel before 30 days , or you will be charged for them. 5) The FB hijackers never advertise the business, or the products, they only post on their wall about their free gift offer, while encouraging you to spread it to others on FB. 6) Pictures of the "alleged" freebie are actually stock photos from the web. The "freebie" does not actually exist. 7) The physical address on some FB hijack pages does not go to an actual business, but often to an empty lot or building. 8) Some clone a business's actual web page, and then create a FB presence. (A fence company offering a beach bag, a spa company offering free scented candles, soap samples, massage oils, etc.) A WhoIs of the website will reveal it was very recently created. 8) Phone calls made to the real business, results in them verifying that they a) Do not have a FB presence and b) They are not giving away any free gifts. 9) These are things that various FW users have discovered and posted about on the threads involving these fake FB offers. 10) If it looks to good to be true, IT IS!
I report them to FB as spam/scam. Click the small arrow to the right of the "Message" box at the top of the page, (below the picture). This opens a drop-down menu, select "Report Page". Select "Spam or scam" then submit. I then look for contact info for the real business, and alert them to the hijack page, so they can get FB to take it down.
posted: Jul. 10, 2012 @ 7:13a
What's really weird is it seems like the people that are making up these pages are also making fake Facebook accounts to comment on the posts they've made on the fake pages to make them look more real. I read through some of the comments and they leave me scratching my head.
Senior Member - 10K
posted: Jul. 10, 2012 @ 11:15a
There's been another long ongoing fake facebook freebie offer from "Chicago Fabric Yarn & Button Sales." It's currently at 51,350 likes. I remember when this was first posted it had 18 likes. The offer is for a free Mitt and potholder set. It started out with a free towel.
Chicago Fabric Yarn is a very legit business but they don't even have a web site! They also have giveaways for sheet sets but the winners have posted complaints (their comments have been removed) that they never received their wins. From what I read today, it looks like people are started to realize they'll never receive their free offers. The picture of the business for their facebook wall is from yelp.
If Chicago Fabric really made the facebook site don't you think they'd post pictures of their inventory instead of free offers only? *red flag
I feel sorry for these business' being scammed like this, they have to do a lot of explaining when people call them and it makes their business look bad.
One of the key things to look for as well is when these fake offers ask you to share their link on other sites. They'll always recommend the larger high traffic sites = more personal information for them. The clock is ticking... Share our current freebie offer link: (Mumz Removed the facebook url Link) as much as you can on (MumzRemoved).com, fatwallet.com, (MumzRemoved).net
posted: Jul. 10, 2012 @ 2:03p
MegoSteve said: What's really weird is it seems like the people that are making up these pages are also making fake Facebook accounts to comment on the posts they've made on the fake pages to make them look more real. I read through some of the comments and they leave me scratching my head.
The're shills working for them, those same shills are often the ones who post the offers on boards like this, and also reply. Most of these scam offers have been posted by newbies, with multiple replies by newbies. And all of these newbies are posting their first post, and they never post again. If you post warnings on the hijack walls, the shills make sure your post gets removed. I have had some success in checking the walls for FB freebie pages, and posting on the walls of those pages that the offer has been determined to be a scam. Some of those legitimate freebie walls have since removed their messages promoting the freebie from their own walls. Anything to cut down on the traffic to the fake offer. FW is now simply removing the scam posts altogether. The problem with that is that the shills, or an unsuspecting FW member, will repost the offer. I still like Mumz idea of leaving the post up after locking it and removing the link (mentioned in a now-deleted post). Reposts could then be redirected to the OP, and subsequently deleted or locked as well (after deactivating the link).
posted: Jul. 10, 2012 @ 5:17p
Well, I (or maybe all the reports) got through to Facebook today, because they took down the fake page impersonating my client's business. They also removed the beach bag one from the California company, but they've left that fake pizza shop page and several of the others I've found so far.
posted: Jul. 10, 2012 @ 8:03p
MumzOf2 said: There's been another long ongoing fake facebook freebie offer from "Chicago Fabric Yarn & Button Sales." It's currently at 51,350 likes. I remember when this was first posted it had 18 likes. The offer is for a free Mitt and potholder set. It started out with a free towel.
Chicago Fabric Yarn is a very legit business but they don't even have a web site! <snip>
They have their own Facebook page now (https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoFabricSalesCompany , and they are posting warnings there. Chicago Fabric Yarn & Button Sales said: What the REAL CF has to say about the FAKE ONE; "There is another page on Facebook masquerading as the Chicago Fabric Yarn & Button Sales Company. http$://www.facebook.com/scam_reference_removed Although all of the contact information, location, and the name are correct make no mistake this is a fake page. This page holds monthly "giveaways" and contests. The owner of Chicago Fabrics & Sales, Byron Miller has never held a contest or give away and does not have any plans to do so. Please do not like the fake page or give out your address to anyone who claims to be associated with this store if you are asked when dealing with the page linked above. I believe it is a scam or a hoax.
and Chicago Fabric Yarn & Button Sales said: There is another Facebook Page masquerading as the Chicago Fabrics & Sales Company's page. They do "give aways" of items that we as a store do not sell. If you see this page do not click "like" on it and do not participate in their give aways. We do not know what their intentions are.
The real CF now have a website and an Etsy store, too bad the scammers didn't catch on and add that to their fake page.
posted: Jul. 11, 2012 @ 9:19a
Here is my solution: Have more than one FB accounts. They are easy and fast to set up. Use only the fake one for most offers that ask for permission to have your info. For convenience, stay signed-up with the real one on your primary browser and smart phone, and stay signed-up with thee fake on another browser. When you see offer you want to participate in (while surfing with the primary browser), just copy the link and open it in the browser with the fake FB account. Easy, and safe for both you and all of your real FB friends.
posted: Jul. 11, 2012 @ 10:39a
pianomaster said: Here is my solution: Don't go on Facebook
Fixed that for you.
posted: Jul. 11, 2012 @ 3:23p
pianomaster said: Here is my solution: Have more than one FB accounts. They are easy and fast to set up. Use only the fake one for most offers that ask for permission to have your info.
When you like one of these fake free product offers, you are asked to complete a contact form with your email address and the street address where you want the product to be delivered.
As far as I know, the scammers are pulling their data from the completed contact forms as they are submitted, not from whatever Facebook account you are using.
Senior Member - 1K
posted: Jul. 11, 2012 @ 3:58p
qube said: pianomaster said: Here is my solution: Don't go on Facebook
Fixed that for you.
Amen- removed facebook from my phone and my life is much better. 95% of the crap from my 'friends' on facebook is useless annoying info from old acquaintances.
posted: Jul. 11, 2012 @ 4:22p
Hmm ... I thought ALL of Facebook was fake.
Nothing like having to (fake) "like" a company to redeem an offer.
Senior Member - 10K
posted: Jul. 18, 2012 @ 1:02p
MumzOf2 said: There's been another long ongoing fake facebook freebie offer from "Chicago Fabric Yarn & Button Sales." The Chicago Fabric Yarn & Button sales facebook site is now featuring another fake offer for a "Free Aquamarine Stone Sample" from the Philadelphia Psychic Center. When you click on the link the submit page/format looks exactly like all the other spam offer submit pages. It's so obvious they're the same scammers.
So beware of the new fake Aquamarine Stone Sample facebook offer going around.
posted: Jul. 26, 2012 @ 9:37p
MumzOf2 said: MumzOf2 said: There's been another long ongoing fake facebook freebie offer from "Chicago Fabric Yarn & Button Sales." The Chicago Fabric Yarn & Button sales facebook site is now featuring another fake offer for a "Free Aquamarine Stone Sample" from the Philadelphia Psychic Center. When you click on the link the submit page/format looks exactly like all the other spam offer submit pages. It's so obvious they're the same scammers.
So beware of the new fake Aquamarine Stone Sample facebook offer going around.
They cleaned up their FB wall. All the negative posts complaining of non-arriving contest prizes, and freebie, have been deleted. They also removed the ability to post comments directly on their wall. They are now posting cute pictures which have absolutely nothing to do with their alleged business.
posted: Jul. 30, 2012 @ 8:52p
The NY/NJ Pizza Parlor has added a new freebie. Kitchen shears from their equipment supplier.
XXXXXXXX Pizza said: One of our suppliers offers a free kitchen scissors. For more details, please follow the link below.
This takes you to a FB Wall for Caldarella's Restaurant Supply. There is NO FB link on the company website to a FB page, and no mention on the website of the free shears. Why would a wholesaler give a freebie to consumers? Submitting the form without imputing data, takes you to various 3rd party spam sites, which all open in a new window, all rated poorly by WOT. And the clueless spread the word (spam for them by reposting the fake freebie on their FB Wall and elsewhere). Expect the shills to start posting the free shears on FatWallet and elsewhere.
posted: Aug. 22, 2012 @ 12:33p
And the scammers have yet another offer on FB, the NY/NJ pizza parlor is offering a free pasta server, which one of their shills posted today on FW FS. As to be expected, a lot of people are questioning where their previous freebies are. Apparently they recently offered a dough scraper too. And the free apron offer is still up.
I c&p'd this thread as a reply to all the FB users asking the pizza place where their freebies were. And I got flagged for spamming and had my ability to post comments on a wall temporarily suspended! What a joke! So, I sent a very terse message to them to report a problem with their page. After sending it, I found I could post again. I guess the suspension was temporary, while they looked to see what I was posting. According to a thread posted by someone over in that deal place known for being slick, the pizza place is well ware of the fake page, and is trying to get FB to do something about it. The poor business has received complaints from angry patrons asking where their "freebies" are, and having to explain they have nothing to with the scam page on FB. Supposedly there is a disclaimer on the website stating they do not have a FB page, and they are NOT giving away any free gifts.
Also, on the Chicago Fabric one. An employee set up a real FB page for them, she mentioned to her boss (the owner) about the fake one, he didn't know what to do as he is not familiar with FB. So she offered to create a real page to counteract the fake one. The real page warns about the fake one, and posts sales at their online Etsy store, asa well as specials in their B&M location.
Senior Member - 10K
posted: Aug. 29, 2012 @ 7:25a
8/29/12 - New Facebook Phishing Free Offer Advance Auto Engineering - Microfiber detail cloth *New FB site made within a day *Another d253kj8uw8gg3b.cloudfront.net/advae-s002.jpg picture *Typical form (all phishing forms look a like) that goes through without entering information *Phone number is dead on facebook site
Senior Member - 10K
posted: Sep. 2, 2012 @ 10:22a
BEWARE - Another Presto Pizza Offer Is Out On Facebook "Free Presto's Pasta Server" This in addition to the pizza cutter and apron they offered/continuing to offer.
The "real" owner knows about the scam facebook site because I talked to him on the phone when the pizza cutter first came out many months ago, even invited me to a free meal next time I'm in town for telling him. I realize now after months of letting these scams continue that's what he wants! He's enjoying the free advertising, people have to be complaining to him because they're not getting their free goods by now, once he tells them like he told me it's a scam they feel bad for him.
I can't get over how many still fall for this crap and give phishers their privy information. The form is the generic form all scammer's use and the cloudfront.net picture. https://d1sf0m8kms36pp.cloudfront.net/presto/pasta_server.jpg
posted: Sep. 4, 2012 @ 1:40p
New Facebook scammer hijack. West Coast Nutrition offering free diet pill samples (Ultimate Nutrition Perfect Diet weight Loss for Women).
This page is fake. There is no link on the West Coast Nutrition webpage that goes to Facebook. Freebie has been available since July 16, Facebook page started July 2, and finally, they don't do mail orders. They are a physical Brick & Mortar store only. This is yet another Facebook Hijack page set up by scammers who use real, legitimate companies to scam you for your personal info, which they then sell to spam, junk mail and telemarketer lists. You will never see the freebie, despite promises it will come. This store doesn't even sell the product listed as the freebie, they just stole a stock picture from another website hat does sell this product. Finally, you can submit the form without imputing any information; the hallmark of a scammer.
ETA: OP posted by a Newbie, most likely a shill from the scammers.
Senior Member - 10K
posted: Sep. 5, 2012 @ 7:23a
Kneipp Joint & Muscle Mineral Bath Salt sample from Votre Beauteca (Note the added "ca") 12 "likes" on the facebook page at time of posting...new facebook site
While waiting for the CS&H* shampoo, I have another cosmetic facebook freebie to share with you all, free french manicure set sample. facebook.com/KmNailManufacture (truncated link)
*Clear Scalp & Hair
This is a link to yet another Facebook Hijack scam page, It is a legitimate business hijacked by a scammer. The website for this business is for wholesalers and distributers, not consumers. They would not be giving freebies to end-purchasers (consumers). Finally, there is no Facebook link on the business website. Upon submission, you get a 3rd-part pop-up offer in another window.
Senior Member - 10K
posted: Sep. 14, 2012 @ 9:35a
Newest Fake Facebook Offer From Prestos Pizza Free cork coaster set with holder.
They have several free offers going on now. I love it how they tell you now when an offer will expire so a new one can be posted. Lucky UK now the unsuspected get their information.
Don't people read the facebook page and realize there's nothing on it but free offers? Sort of odd for a business facebook page that doesn't talk about their business.
The phishers are winning with this one because there's a sucker born every minute.
Only the owner of the legit business can get this to stop, but I don't see it happening.
posted: Sep. 17, 2012 @ 11:21p
Prestos now links you to yet another wholesaler that does not have a Facebook page (And wholesalers DO NOT give freebies to end users (ie consumers). Previously it was a restaurant supply company. This time it is an Italian Spices set from a real company in California called Italfoods Inc. Of course it's the same scammers and their shills in operation. I keep posting links to this thread. Got a PM through Facebook from someone who said she has been trying to get people to realize these are scams, and appreciated my link. Interestingly, the shills haven't removed my more recent posts of the link on their wall(s). Then again, they haven't deleted the complainants asking where their previous freebies are.
When you submit form (they're getting wiser, you now must enter data, but any data will do), you get the usual 3rd-party pop-ups. And the following:
Italan Foods said: Thank you for requesting a sample. Please allow 2-4 weeks for delivery of free ItalFoods italian spices set. If you share us with your friends on Facebook we will add a pepper mill to your shipment. Once you receive your spices set, please consider coming back to tell us what you think! We look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!
IOW, "Spam us on Facebook and we will 'not' send you a pepper mill. Heck, we aren't sending anything, but thanks for spamming us for free!
Senior Member - 10K
posted: Sep. 21, 2012 @ 12:29p
Another Fake Facebook Phishing Site Free Car Washing Sponge from Urgent Care Bumper Repair
Prestos scam is starting to unravel; today only, get free branded olive oil with your pizza cutter. BTW, they now have disabled the ability to comment on their wall. A link to this thread, and a warning, were posted to their Recommendations, too bad they can't delete that. It's right on their wall where all visitors can see.
posted: Oct. 13, 2012 @ 9:42p
When I call to verify freebies, I talk to the people but they don't generally seem interested in fixing things. I even offer to give them the super secret contact email address I have at Facebook to help get the fakes shut down. I get that it's a small business, but I personally called them and told them what was going on. It just seems like they'd want to put a stop to it, but they don't realize how much impact it will have.
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