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Scam alert: fake Currys PC World Facebook page

A scam Currys PC World page claims it’s giving away Samsung TVs for free, but the page is fake and just wants to draw you in – here’s why.

A fake Facebook account, using the Currys logo, shared two posts in June, claiming to be giving away Samsung televisions.

The posts claimed that the TVs had ‘slight scratches’ and could no longer be sold by the retailer.

People were told to like the page, share the post and tag their friends, in order to spread the message.

James, who notified us about the page, told us:

“It was one of those Facebook posts where it captures your attention. I saw it and thought I’ve got nothing to lose here, I’ll share it and see what happens”

He quickly unshared the post after receiving messages from friends explaining the posts were from a fraudulent account. Here’s exactly what the posts looked like:

If you come across one of them, make sure you don’t share it or comment on it. You can also report the posts to Facebook, which told us:

“There’s no place for fraudulent or inauthentic behaviour on Facebook, and we have removed the Page in question.

We have a safety and security team working to keep our platforms safe and we invest in artificial intelligence technology so we can find and block millions of inauthentic accounts every day”

How does this scam work?

You may be wondering what the scam element is here – what happens once you’ve liked and shared the page?

Just like old-fashioned chain mail, once you’ve passed it on you allow the page to gain more and more exposure and build up its following.

In fact, this one managed to amass an audience of 56,214 ‘likes’ before it was removed.

Once a page has that sort of following it becomes both valuable and attractive to other interests – the page could be passed/sold on to others.

They can then change its name and images and use it to push scams or other agendas on its large audience.

We’ve seen the same thing happen with Twitter accounts, which use ‘pass it on’ style competitions to build up a following.

How to spot fake social media pages

Major retailers like Currys will often have a blue tick next to their real social media accounts –  it means the page has been verified as belonging to the organisation or company.

In this case, a Currys spokesperson told us:

“We would like to reassure our customers that all our social media channels are continually monitored for fake accounts by our customer services teams and colleagues.

All fake accounts are immediately reported to the appropriate social media platform to have the account closed down as soon as possible.

We would encourage customers to only engage with our genuine, verified accounts which carry the ‘blue tick’ badge”

If you see a competition being shared on Facebook or any other social media platform, make sure to check there’s a blue tick next to the company’s name before sharing or engaging with it.

However, the absence of a blue tick doesn’t guarantee the page isn’t genuine either, so you should also be sure to carry out other checks.

Take a look at how many followers and likes the page has, look out for the usual signs, such as spelling and grammatical errors, and see if the page is linked to from the brand’s genuine website.

Have you seen a similar Facebook scam doing the rounds? Let us know in the comments, so we can continue to report them and warn others.


Comments

Great piece from Hannah – really useful. I’ll add a couple of other tips, too: first, have a look and see how long the page has been up. A lot of these will have only gone online in the past few weeks or months, whereas you’d expect a big brand’s page to have been around for much longer.

And check what kind of content is on the page: a genuine brand page will usually have at the very least lots of posts and, depending on their moderation policy, a lively community. A fake page will have very little content, and it’ll usually be dodgy giveaways.

kingo says:
10 July 2020

I ordered some product from them last year and never received it.

It is also fairly obvious that it is not a genuine offer because the right-hand image implies that everyone who ‘likes’ the page by 11:00 pm will win a free TV [even though only 27 are said to be available].

The perfect logo is worrying. That’s half way to a good con. The second bit is that, in this case, no money was required. The two alarm bells here are the 11 pm deadline and “it’s too good to be true” nature. Nevertheless, there’s a lot of people out there who were taken in or acted on the information.

What a crazy world social media is when the operators say they have to employ 35,000 people to keep their platform safe – at £10K a year each that’s £350,000,000, plus an unspecified cost for artificial intelligence technology; is that credible? Even if 10% true for the UK, that is a huge amount of money coming out of the economy because it has to be recouped from advertising revenue the cost of which goes on what we buy.

Is the enrichment of our lives brought about through social media interaction really worth it?

That’s the exact quote they gave us but, given they have around 48k staff worldwide, it does seem unlikely that 35k are in the security team. Hannah’s going to check with them!

John questions whether social media is worth having. We have heard plenty about scams and fake ads and it is good that these are being discussed and that some action is being taken to tackle these issues. I don’t know about the scale of the problem but it seems that Facebook should be responsible for the behaviour of those it permits to use its pages for advertising. Likewise, some of us have suggested that the owners of online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon should be responsible for ensuring that their traders do not advertise dangerous goods on their websites.

Scams and fake ads are not the only problems with social media and most people will be aware of it being used to promote hatred and other terrible things.

It’s worth recognising that there is good as well as bad. It’s a way of helping people to keep in touch with friends and to connect with others with common interests. A small society that I’m involved with is struggling during the pandemic because bills continue to come in at a time that we cannot raise funds in the usual way. I suggested doing a small crowdfunding appeal on our Facebook page, knowing little about whether it might be successful. I’m hoping this will raise over £2k, which should cover most of our outgoings in the past few months:

Knives are dangerous and cars are dangerous but taking precautions we can use them to our advantage. For me, Facebook has provided a wonderful way of raising support for our society and has uncovered some interesting historic photos that we might not have seen otherwise. Social media is largely the preserve of the young, but I know numerous people in their 70s that are active users. I suggest that social media is regulated so that the benefits clearly outweigh the disadvantages.

I have no ‘Facebook friends’ only real ones and I’m planning to keep it that way.

I agree with you, Wavechange. Social media is theoretically a force for good in terms of human interaction and friendship [even though it has an underlying commercial purpose] but I question whether society can rely on it being safe unless it is subjected to controls that go beyond the boundaries that the owners and promoters of the sites wish to accept because such restrictions would compromise their philosophy of one great caring, sharing world free from censorship and judgmental constraints. The problem is that the commercial underbelly of the operation [which was barely noticeable in the early days] has come to the fore and been exploited by scammers and fraudsters preying on the susceptibility of many of the users of the more virtuous aspects of social media.

In allowing well-known companies to advertise who wish to access markets that are more difficult to reach through conventional means – which is a good thing – they have opened the door to criminals who can corrupt the legitimate adverts and misuse them for nefarious purposes. Although Facebook claims that it employs thousands of people to police the platform and has removed millions of suspicious and fake accounts, the problem persists. It clearly is not doing enough to provide a safe place for those who use it – who, as you say, are generally young people but includes many older people some of whom in both categories could be regarded as vulnerable or susceptible.

It amazes me that the fake Curry’s advert could get first base in getting posted on Facebook. Then there are all these reports of fake adverts for Clark’s shoes which have been running for a long time now and are still pulling in orders that never get fulfilled with the goods paid for. A reactive system of controlling the traffic is not good enough and I agree that the only thing which is likely to restore good order to social media is to make the hosting organisation responsible for the actions of all who use its commercial facilities.

There are numerous examples of good community action and fundraising that have been achieved through postings on social media, and no one would want to restrain that, but it has come at a high price. We now live in a world of dependency on social media, where ‘influencers’ command huge audiences and have become brands in themselves, and where the lines between friendship, affinity, connections, commerce and criminality have become increasingly blurred. Meanwhile the industry – for that is what it has become – is scooping in billions of pounds on the back of basic insecurity, to some extent self-fulfilling, that is floated on their channels.

Thanks John. As you have said elsewhere, social media is not going to go away and I think it is incumbent on the providers to invest a great deal of time and money into tackling the existing problems and nipping new ones in the bud.

Back on topic, the scam described, like so many, is based on the strong desire to get something for nothing. Others like the shoes scams on social media are based on bargains that many of us would regard as too good to be true. I understand the problem but don’t know the solution.

Looks like the quote from Facebook saying they employ 35K people to monitor fake pages has been amended. However my experience reporting fakes suggests that much of the monitoring and reviewing of fake pages like this one is done by AI, at least in the first instance. This AI seems to be incapable of recognising even such blatant scams as the one in this report. The first response from Facebook is invariably a stock reply saying, “We have reviewed the page/post you reported and found nothing that goes against our community standards”. Often followed a few days later by, “We have reviewed it again and found that it does go against community standard and removed it”. My suspicion is that although Facebook claim that it only takes one report, there is no point asking your friends to also report the same thing, they do in fact escalate a report to a human reviewer if enough individual complaints are received.

The anonymity of the internet and the international nature of it means that anyone in the world can scam or hack anyone else and not get caught. It might, sometimes, be possible to know who or where the scam or the malware is coming from and still the perpetrator can carry on regardless especially if it is state sponsored. Without any recourse to justice, the dark side of the web flourishes. To balance that, most of us make use of the internet and enjoy its freedom and its facility to do things. The internet will fail if it becomes too much of a mine field. So far the positives are greater. As an analogy to every day life, we might love to ramble in the New Forest, but we always look out for snakes.

The credit card is another analogy. Many manage to use it for its benefits but it helps encourage others into a spiral of debt.

I cannot see anything positive about gambling but maybe I’m biased because I have no experience.

Wavechange, I don’t use my credit card for the sole purpose of buying on credit, I use it as a potential safeguard as I now have to do most of my shopping online, including prescription medication, which of course, I don’t have to pay for anyway. 0cado are the only exception as when I opened an account with them, a debit card was the only means of payment they would accept. I am not sure if that is still the case.

For me credit card are just a convenience and they are payed by direct debit each month.

Whether it’s social media, the internet or credit cards it’s easy to vilify them but there are good and bad. Those who don’t use them tend to see only the bad.

I wonder if those who have been scammed take the opportunity to look out for scams and avoid them in future.

I expect that Ocado will take credit cards nowadays. For years Marks & Spencer did not before realising that they were turning away business.

Shutting down social media would be impossible, and not necessarily desirable. Used as originally intended it has major benefits and good outcomes. But how does society deal with the exploitation and abuse for which it also provides a platform?

It seems to me that the harmful psychological consequences of bad actions on social media, and the long-term damage they can cause, have barely been explored. Lack of trust, sense of inferiority, guilt complexes, loss of self-worth, broken relationships, self-pity, negativity – must we just tolerate these syndromes indefinitely and to an increasing degree? The strong will overcome, but the weak will succumb and descend into a state of psychiatric illness that is bad for them and not good for society generally.

I don’t use social media so am presumably immune to John’s list of harms. I don’t miss it, nor see the need for it. But then I don’t watch Big Brother or Love Island, Question Time, Goggle box…….. A sad life.

Steve W says:
2 July 2020

I have to agree with everything malcolm r says. I’m not on social media either and don’t watch all the same programs as him but I don’t think that makes us sad!!!

So is there a causal relationship between activity on [and vulnerability to] social media and certain types of observational television?

I am not really in any position to comment on this at all since I don’t ‘like’ or ‘tweet’, and have never even heard of Love Island. I have heard of Big Brother and Gogglebox but never watched them, but I confess to having watched Question Time occasionally when there were some interesting people on. I haven’t seen it since the general election because they have tried to popularise it with extra guests and odd-balls and too much time given to audience participation. I don’t think very highly of the new presenter either.

Thanks to one more post on Facebook we have raised £500 pounds more than we had yesterday. That’s money to support our charity without doing anything. Some of the donations are from names I know, some I have never heard of and some anonymous. Like a chainsaw, social media is risky but hopefully most users have not been scammed.

As mentioned before, online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay are not currently responsible for their traders selling dangerous goods. Let’s fight to change that and let’s fight to put an end to scams on social media. I cannot see any sensible alternative. In the meantime I want to carry on using Facebook to promote our society and make money from supporters.

Phil says:
1 July 2020

Seeing as neither Curry’s nor any other retailer carry out any pre-despatch inspections how would they know if any of their stock was damaged? They could’ve been returns but that’s not what the page says.

Margaret says:
2 July 2020

There was 1 on Facebook but they were using Argos

Maureen Green says:
2 July 2020

That advert has been showing on the television for a while now, when I first saw it I laughed who would give you a large TV FREE, some people obviously are taken in by it thinking that’s good, but don’t think until too late.
I don’t use any social media for this reason.

Keith Smith says:
2 July 2020

How do I know that this email is from Which ??

“There’s no place for fraudulent or inauthentic behavior on Facebook” if only facebook actually meant it. The number of scam ads on their platform is appalling. And when you report fake pages /ads etc they do very little about it.

Malcolm – In fact by all accounts you could say that Facebook is the place for such behaviour. It is tolerated if not condoned, and it is causing social problems. It now seems a million miles away from the original aspirations of the site.

You say look out for the BLUE TICK! Well what is to stop the scammers adding a BLUE TICK to their sites?

Christopher Clifton says:
4 July 2020

The blue tick is added by Facebook in a specific place next to the page name. Page owners do not have access to this part of the code for the page, so cannot add their own blue tick in the place where it’s supposed to be. Not that this stops fakes putting a blue tick elsewhere on their page, including it as part of their profile picture is a favourite.

G Westby says:
5 July 2020

If a company had received damaged goods from a supplier wouldn’t they be returning them rather than giving them away?

Not necessarily. The goods may have been damaged during transit after they have been purchased by Currys. But I agree that it’s right to be suspicious of anyone offering anything free. Retailers generally offer a discount if goods are cosmetically imperfect.

PAUL LACEY says:
14 July 2020

Reported these scam pages and no action by Facebook

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PAUL LACEY says:
14 July 2020

Facebook are refusing to taken down the scam pages

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Why am I not surprised?

Then again, in the name of that site, shouldn’t the “C” be pronounced as a “K”?

Jon Lake says:
4 August 2020

Unfortunately, Currys themselves are also a perpetrator of fake and dubious offers, hence it is no big deal that other scammers are simply emulating what the company is guilty of.
For instance, Currys listed ACER Swift 1 SF114-32 14″ Intel® Pentium™ Laptop – 128 GB SSD, Silver on their webpage as ‘£149.97 Save £130.00. Was £279.97. They said that this is for collection only and at the check-out, asked you to pick a store for the collection.
Surprisingly any store you selected returned with the message. ‘Not Available at this Location’. And to be sure of what is really happening I selected all Currys stores location in England and all returned with the same message of non-availability.
I see this as nothing more than an attempt to get people to purchase the more expensive items dubiously listed on the same page as the Acer on ‘offer’.
Not so much different from the scams the company itself is complaining about!

Jon – That’s an interesting piece of evidence that Which? will probably wish to take on board in its ongoing discussions with Currys PC World about upselling higher-priced pre-set-up laptops for the spurious reason that the unaltered product ordered for collection was no longer available. We are still waiting for Which?’s latest update on that issue.

Further thoughts . . . I don’t know whether or not creating a false market [which this practice seems to represent] is officially banned or disapproved but I think most people would regard it as an unfair trading practice that no reputable company would operate.

I have seen other examples of the same problem where products are discontinued and remaining stocks being sold off by branches. I suspect that it is down to a software problem. I suggest contacting Currys and if they do not remove the listing then contact Citizens Advice, who should report the problem to Trading Standards.