Fake meal vouchers for Wetherspoon pubs are being promoted on Facebook, despite the chain shutting all its social media accounts in 2018.
Facebook users who comment on the posts published by the fake Wetherspoon pages are told they will win meal vouchers if they receive comments from Wetherspoon. But these comments come from scammers who have set up the pages.
The posts read ‘Congratulations for those of you who have received comments from us, you have the opportunity to win them’. You are then asked to like and share the post with your friends.
Luckily, the fake profiles don’t have large followings unlike other competition scams we’ve warned about, but they do have the potential to reach a large audience.
Over the past week, searches for ‘Wetherspoons Facebook scam’ have risen by 800% on Google, eclipsing earlier searches made when this scam circulated earlier in the year.
We found two Facebook pages claiming to be legitimate Wetherspoon social media profiles, both sharing posts following the same format.
Users are asked to ‘like’ and ‘share’ and then enter a competition by following a link to a ‘competition’ website.
Once here, users are asked to click a button to enter their details and claim their prize.
It’s unclear what happens when users interact with the ‘competition’ page, and we’re unaware of anyone who has handed money or personal details over to the website owners. We strongly recommend you don’t interact with the posts, or follow any links from them.
Wetherspoon’s website states that: ‘Wetherspoon does not use any social media. Any promotions on social media which appear to be from Wetherspoon are, therefore, unofficial and fake – so please do not participate or share your details with such adverts.
‘We will continue to report fake pages and do apologise for any inconvenience caused by these unassociated spam accounts.’
Tracking , scams and spam ads
Signing up to fake competitions and giveaways can lead to tracking cookies being added to your web browser. This can prime Facebook users to be targeted by more spam ads from the people running the pages.
Users who have interacted with these pages can be caught in a vicious cycle where ‘likes’ inflate the popularity of the page, promoting it so it’s seen by more people.
When we found the fake pages we reported them to Facebook, which swiftly took them down.
Which? believes that online platforms should be legally required to identify, remove and prevent fake and fraudulent digital content from appearing on their platforms.
Read our guide on what steps to take if you think you’ve spotted a scam.
How to report a scam
If you think you’ve interacted with a fake or fraudulent page or account on Facebook, report it straight away. You can find out how to report a scam using our guide.
You can also report scams to Action Fraud, which works with the police to stamp out scams.
You can also and can help protect others from scams by using the Which? scam sharer tool.
If you think you’ve spotted a social media scam, follow these steps to protect yourself:
Is the deal ‘too good to be true’? – If the deal or competition looks too good to be true, it probably is. A quick Google search will tell you if the legitimate company is promoting the giveaway.
- Check the URL – If you’ve followed a link, does the URL look suspicious? If it does, leave the site.
- Check your social timeline – Is there a high number of people posting or sharing the same thing? They may have been scammed.
- Check the branding – scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated but there might be giveaways such as inconsistencies in the branding that could give them away.
- Send a message – if someone you know has posted or shared something suspicious, ask them. Send them a message to make sure – it may have been intentional.
- Contact the company directly – Reach out to the company on social media, via email or over the phone to check whether the competition or giveaway is real.
Scammers try to exploit the credibility of social media advertising but our how to spot a social media scam advice can help you stay one step ahead.