/ Scams

Scam watch: winning a competition you didn’t enter

Being told you’ve won a competition may sound like great news at first, but think back – do you even remember entering one?

Earlier this year we received a message from a member of the public who enters a lot of competitions on Facebook. She told us that she’d received a direct message from an account that looked just like Currys PC World, saying that she’d won a television and a set of Bluetooth speakers.

The messages asked her to confirm her name, mobile number and delivery address, which she did. But later she was asked for her card details to cover the cost of delivering the ‘prizes’, at which point she fortunately realised that something wasn’t right.

But should she be worried about the details she’d already shared with the fraudsters?

Convincing copycat accounts

Fraudsters can create convincing copycat social media accounts to contact victims, claiming they’ve won a prize. They target people based on social media activity and interests, and they can catch you out with offers that make sense in the moment.

We’ve seen a very similar scam before involving a fake competition to win a 65″ TV. A spokesperson for Currys at the time told us that fake accounts are immediately reported to the appropriate platforms and closed down. It said customers should only engage with its verified accounts, which carry the ‘blue tick’ badge.

In this case, it rang alarm bells when the scammers asked the victim to pay, and rightly so. Big brands wouldn’t expect a competition winner to pay for the cost of delivering a prize.

It’s possible the victims’ payment details would then have been used for something else.

Guide: how to spot a scam

Guide: how to get your money back after a scam

Verify your private messages

You should always check to see who’s really sending you private messages. Is it a verified brand account? Do you remember entering the competition?

If you’re unsure, contact the company’s customer services on a verifiable number and ask whether it’s genuine. It’s unlikely much harm will come from the details given away in this case, but we advised the member of the public to regularly check her credit report for unrecognised accounts, and watch out for unexpected bills.

In these situations you could also join the Cifas Protective Registration service, which sends an alert if your details are used to sign up for financial products.

Have you ever been sent a private message on social media out of the blue, telling you you’ve won a competition or anything else? Let us know in the comments and help keep friends and family safe online by spreading the word.

Comments

Basic rule in cases like this: if you haven’t chosen specifically to enter a competition, you haven’t won anything. The companies that do them (if they do) want a basic minimum of interaction with their contestants. Sending in your details (allowing them, if you consent, to send you advertising) or making a purchase and then consenting to have them entered, is the barest minimum of interaction they will expect. So, no competition entry = no competition win.
Simples!

Teresa Bettridge says:
10 September 2021

I am ‘winning’ prizes daily, from Tesco vouchers to $1,500,000 from the FBI!

I get this a lot on Instagram for competitions that I’ve entered. I’ve tried reporting it to Instagram but there isn’t any way of doing so. I’ve tried reporting the account to Instagram for impersonation, but when you try to tell them which business they’re impersonating it just doesn’t work.

I’ve had this and suspect that the impersonator has a way of blocking any reference to themselves.

Lilian says:
23 September 2021

I have to agree. Instagram is one of the worst and quite difficult to identify some of the scammers. I’ve given up on Instagram competitions now. You report and nothing is done.

Margaret Simpson says:
10 September 2021

On Facebook selling site Amazon selling trolley full of stuff $29 I’m sure this is a scam to good to be true

I sent for one of those and i should have known better for the price, when it came it was a very small package and in it was a speaker, so I’ve now learnt my lesson and won’t be doing that again.

I keep getting e mails from feales wnting me to contact them for company. I just delete them immediately.

get many anything from my Lidl receipt to my complaint against Tesco upheld and Amazon winning an I phone.ignore them all.don’t answer my mobile unless I know the number have sky shield on the land line,

I too have had a lot of the above scams,but the latest is a phone call telling me i have an old ppi case that was turned down has now been re opened and they are willing to pay me the sum of £2,900 all i had to do is give them my age name of bank and bank account detailes and the money would be transfered at once.Itold the person on the phone to put it in wrighting and send it through the post.at this point the person told me he was not asking for the long number on my credit card to which i answered no but you are asking for my bank detailes of which i am not giving you.goodby.

I have won lots of things from Argos lidil Tesco Currys and a few others but as I never enter competitions I know I haven’t won anything

‘You’ve won’ E mails are a regular occurrence, the first time I did wonder if it was genuine as I had shopped at said business the day before, fortunately I didn’t fall for it and now just delete them without opening.

Patricia Avery says:
10 September 2021

I have received many of these notifications from fake accounts on Facebook. I report them but FB response is always the same it doesn’t go against their community standards. Grr! So, now I just block them

Edmund Morgan says:
10 September 2021

Not social media. Phone call from Alice from microsoft, Nice West coast accent (US). Mycomputer not accepting upgrades. Very persistent, Caling from local number. 1471, check, Number dose not exist.
Be aware, check

Susan Ellen Burke says:
10 September 2021

I have been informed by Email several times I have won at the supermarkets mainly Tesco. when yo go through the information they as for postage for a mobile phone. Then I realise its a scam so delete it. Some want you to take out a magazine membership but end up deleting them. Another scam is asking you for VAT for an order that is being held at customs

Hugh Stuart says:
12 September 2021

I am winning regularly!!!

KATIE MILLARD says:
12 September 2021

I get a few but not many now as I report them to the companies concerned ie Tesco, Which (yes I did get one) and various others.

Be wary of ‘you’ve won an i-phone,click here to accept’,or, ‘click here to activate’. Once you click,you have embedded that i-phone, which belongs to someone in Nigeria(or somewhere thousands of miles away. Quite honestly,just apply good old logic. If you ain’t entered a competition,you ain’t won Jack.

To date, I have been informed that I have suspicious activity on my Amazon Account, and that an iPhone to the value of £500 has been charged for, but been blocked.
So far, I have ‘purchased’ seven phones from Amazon, all are fishing attempts at getting my bank or credit card details.
I never open this type of email, just in case it allows for a trojan horse to load onto my computer.
The same applies to the dozen or so first prizes I have ‘won’ in competitions/prize draws from Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Curry’s, B&Q and many other large companies.
The funny thing is, I don’t enter draws or competitions.
Another scam being any email starting with something like ‘I am a widow with a large amount of money that I need to get out of Africa before the government claim it from my deceased husband’s estate’ usually with added religious references or the fact they are dying of cancer etc.,
These usually originate in Nigeria, where the widow turns out to be a fat, sweaty Nigerian man in a dirty tee shirt, trying to obtain your hard-earned cash whilst never having done an honest day’s work in his life.
If it’s too good to be true, then it probably isn’t.
Don’t open anything you are not one hundred percent sure is genuine, and you are less likely to be taken in by these scams.

It does not matter how many checks and policies social media companies put in place, scammer will work twice as hard to beat them. The best toll is the ability to block the scammer from contacting you in the future – you have the control then.

Tina says:
3 November 2021

Email from a Jayden Hussain, telling me have have won a prize from a competition I have never entered.