There has been a sharp rise in the number of businesses that are offering regular people money or even free laptops in exchange for “renting” their Facebook page to run ads on the platform.
Digital advertising is a part of our daily experience online. You can hardly visit a website or social media platform without running into one and in many cases, not all of these advertisements are legitimate. The Better Business Bureau released a study at the end of 2018 highlighting how many scammers use social media ads to peddle fake products and free trial offer scams using celebrities likeness’ without their permission.
As more people have become aware of these types of scams, online publishers have begun to crack down on people looking to exploit their platforms. Facebook and many other online publishers have begun cracking down on these deceptive ads and banning repeat offenders from utilizing their services – but that’s not stopping scammers from finding a way around it.
As first reported in this article from BuzzfeedNews, there has been a sharp rise in the number of businesses that are offering regular people money or even free laptops in exchange for “renting” their Facebook page to run ads on the platform. These advertisers who have been previously banned from using these online platforms and their advertising services are paying regular people money to use their Facebook account as a front for their online advertisements.
In some extreme cases they are even offering to send consumers a free laptop installed with software, so they can remotely access and control the advertising from the comfort of their own home. These scammers tell consumers that they don’t have to do any of the advertising work in exchange for these products or money – they simply need access to your Facebook account.
It may seem like a harmless agreement in exchange for the hefty reward you’re being offered but it’s actually a very dangerous deal these scammers are asking you to enter into.
Facebook has specific regulations prohibiting users from allowing anyone other than themselves access to their account. Just this action alone could result in having your Facebook account suspended or banned entirely. However, the real danger is allowing these scammers access to your personal information.
How Does This Scam Work?
These scammers set up websites and begin looking for anyone that has had a Facebook account for more than one year and has not run ads on it previously. Once a user shows interest, you’re asked to read an online contract and sign an agreement. The scammer will then ask you to do one of two things – Install a browser plugin built by their team or enable them to virtually access your computer in order to set up the Facebook ads account and link it to their company profile.
Giving anyone that you don’t know personally remote access to your computer is a terrible idea. It can take only a couple minutes for a scammer to download malware onto your hard drive and steal files, personal information, documents, and photos.
Many times, the extension they ask consumers to download will continue to run in the background and collect any information the user has. It can even log your keystrokes and steal personal passwords to your email accounts, online banking accounts, and more.
In other cases, the scammers may often send you a laptop that is pre-loaded with the necessary software needed. What they don’t tell you is that the computer is filled with malware that is specifically designed to harvest your personal information and data, in order to send it back to the scammers.
Sometimes these websites won’t always approach you directly. Many of them have affiliate programs that encourage other people to recruit their friends and family. They rely on the personal connection to make people lower their guard and ignore the red flags.
How to Avoid This Scam:
Thankfully, this scam is pretty easy to spot because the scammer is asking consumers to do a very specific thing. If you do encounter this scam for yourself, there are a few steps you should take to protect yourself and the people you know.
2. Alert your friends and family of the scam. The best way to prevent a scam is to make others aware of it. Share this article on your Facebook feed, talk to your children about this scam, and warn others if you encounter it.
3. Cease all contact with the scammer. Whether you were contacted via email, through social media, or through a personal friend, do not continue contact with the scammer. It’s in your best interest to block that person to prevent any further attempts to scam you.
4. Report the fake ad to Facebook. If you see an ad or a Facebook post that is promoting this scam, use the report feature to alert Facebook. This will help their team in the discovery and removal of these types of predatory ads.