Fake Facebook-branded credit cards are sent out to victims. (Supplied: Queensland Police Service)
A “Facebook lottery” promising prize money of $7.5 million has scammed nearly 30 Queenslanders out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, police say.
Queensland Police Service said the latest version of the scam involves the victim being sent a very realistic looking Facebook-branded credit card.
It begins when the victim is unexpectedly contacted on their Facebook account by a person claiming to be an employee of Facebook advising they have won the $7.5 million prize in the “Facebook Lottery”.
Victims are requested to pay legal, late or administrative fees to “unlock” or release the money.
This could be hundreds or thousands of dollars and could be asked for in instalments.
They are then sent a Facebook-branded credit card, and are told the card will be made active once the victim pays a further $7,500, on top of previous fees.
Police said there was no such thing as a “Facebook lotto”. (Supplied: Queensland Police Service)
Once this is done, they will apparently be sent their winnings.
Detective Acting Superintendent Melissa Anderson of the Financial and Cyber Crime Group said there is no Facebook lottery and certainly no Facebook credit card.
“This is just a rehash of a number of long-running, phishing-based lottery scam, just reinvented with a social media angle,” Detective Acting Superintendent Anderson said.
“Victims lose the $7,500 and every other instalment or fee they have paid.
“This is just another example of criminals targeting vulnerable members of the community.”
Detective Acting Superintendent Anderson said the latest victim lost over $100,000 in the scam and police are concerned there could be more victims.
To protect yourself from scams, watch out for the following:
- People asking you for money who you don’t know in person
- People asking you for advance fees to receive a loan, prize or other winnings
- People asking you to move your conversation off Facebook (such as a separate email)
- People claiming to be a friend or relative in an emergency
- Messages or posts with poor spelling and grammatical mistakes
- Pages representing large companies, organizations or public figures that are not verified
- People or accounts directing you to a Page to claim a prize
“We continue to plead with the community to realise that if someone contacts you out of the blue to present you with winnings, a once in a lifetime opportunity or a chance to gain hundreds, thousands or millions of dollars, you must ignore it or seek independent advice to verify the claims,” she said.
“Make sure you are in control of your personal details and be wary of anyone seeking your information online or over the phone. You can’t win lotteries unless you buy a ticket. We urge the community to maintain control of their details and be mindful of what information you are giving out online.
“Is this too good to be true? I can say with almost 100 per cent confidence that it will be.”
Would-be scammer played by vigilant Australian
Sydney man Terry Nichols was told over the weekend by a man via Instagram that he had won $1.5 million in the “Facebook lottery”.
Mr Nichols received this certificate via Instagram to congratulate him on his “Facebook lottery win”. (Supplied: Terry Nichols)
But he knew straight away that it was too good to be true.
“He sent me a message just asking how I was and so forth. I wasn’t actually sure if I knew him or not,” Mr Nichols said.
“I replied, and he just had a bit of a conversation and then he’s come out and says he works for Facebook’s lottery department and I’d won $US1.5 million.
“Then he asked how I’d like to receive the money, via an ATM card or a cheque.”
Mr Nichols said he decided to string his would-be scammer along.
“I gave him a fake address and phone number. Then as he got those he sent me through a certificate with my name on it,” he said.
“Then he sent me photos [of people] who’ve taken selfies with a sign saying they won the Facebook lottery, and a few pictures of people with ATM cards — all elderly people — and you could tell they were all situated in America.
Mr Nichols was told to transfer money for the delivery of his “winnings”. (Supplied: Terry Nichols)
Mr Nichols then received a variety of options for the “delivery of his winnings”, ranging from “Premium Express” delivery for $US956, down to “Economy Express” for $US595.
“He wanted the payment to a person named Tony in New Mexico via Western Union or MoneyGram,” he said.
“I just played along. I told him I went to Western Union but he wanted a transfer number … I said they were being emailed to me.
“He’s still waiting for his money. He sent me a message on Wednesday night saying ‘hello, are you there?’
“I haven’t replied yet, I’m going to block him soon.”
Mr Nichols said he passed on an email address associated with the scammer to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission via its Scamwatch website.