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Have you won the Facebook lottery?

No, you haven’t. I can categorically assure you that you have not. Because the Facebook lottery is not a genuine promotion, it’s a scam. I mean, I’m sure Mark Zuckerberg is a really nice chap and he does have a great record on giving to charity, but he does not select Facebook users at random to receive large payouts – not only is he a pretty busy bloke, the Facebook lottery is not a thing, it doesn’t exist, it’s not real. Have I made myself clear?

Of course, you may think that’s obvious. You may think you’d never fall for a scam like that, but the prospect of winning big is attractive to all of us, and anyone can be vulnerable to scammers, which is why it’s so important that we highlight scams like the Facebook lottery.

The Facebook lottery is a variation on the classic ‘advance fee scam’ or fraud, which works like this. A scammer tells you you’ve won the lottery, but says that to claim your winnings, you need to send them a sum of money. The sum is always relatively small in relation to the size of your promised win – a few hundred dollars perhaps – and might be described as a ‘security deposit’, ‘delivery cost’, ‘conversion fee’ or similar. You send the money in the belief that you’ll receive a much larger sum in return. Of course, you never see the fee again and your winnings never materialise.

There are many forms of this scam, but in the Facebook lottery version the news of your win might come from someone whose friend request you accepted but don’t know and who turns out to work for ‘Facebook Promotions’. It could come in a message from a genuine Facebook friend whose account has been compromised or it could come via a very plausible but fake company Facebook page you’ve liked.

Scammers work hard to build your trust, posting funny memes, engaging you in light-hearted conversation and promoting the causes you support. Then, as the relationship develops, they will claim they work for Facebook and tell you you’re a Facebook lottery winner. They usually say the promotion is to persuade people to use Facebook more or is a thank you to the public for supporting Facebook and making it such a success. They often ask for personal details as well as money, and they can be very persistent.

Don’t respond to the scammer, because it only encourages them. Cut off all contact and unfriend them immediately. Don’t give them any personal details as that makes you vulnerable to identity theft. Don’t give them your bank details and definitely don’t send them any money.

If you have revealed any personal financial information, contact your bank or building society at once. If the scammer emails you outside Facebook, don’t click on any links or download any attachments and forward the email to Facebook. You can also report the scam through the Facebook Help Center. You can also report scams to Action Fraud, the National Fraud and Cyber.

If you’ve been scammed, please share your story with us. Our goal is to help consumers identify genuine prize promotions from those which are fake, and with your help we can create further awareness.

Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist, an IPM Board Director, and a SCAMbassador for National Trading Standards Scams Team.

The Facebook lottery is a variation on the classic ‘advance fee scam’ or fraud, which works like this. A scammer tells you you’ve won the lottery, but says that to claim your winnings, you need to send them a sum of money. The sum is always relatively small in relation to the size of your promised win – a few hundred dollars perhaps – and might be described as a ‘security deposit’, ‘delivery cost’, ‘conversion fee’ or similar. You send the money in the belief that you’ll receive a much larger sum in return. Of course, you never see the fee again and your winnings never materialise.

Texas Woman Scammed by ‘Friend’ in ‘Facebook Lottery’

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said it’s investigating an advance fee scheme

Texas Woman Falls Victim to ‘Facebook Powerball Lottery’

May 22, 2014 — — A woman in Texas says she was the victim of a well-worn scam, but what was unique in her case was that the fraudulent pitch came to her through a Facebook “friend” and was allegedly endorsed by President Obama.

Kris White admits that she shouldn’t have been fooled last week by the Facebook message saying she had won $250,000 in a “Facebook Powerball lottery,” ABC News affiliate KTRK reported. She said she was shown documents that wrote United States with lowercase letters and included phrases with incorrect punctuation, according to the KTRK story.

But she was swayed when the person on Facebook showed her documents signed by Barack Obama that said, “This is a Real proof you won $250,000.00.”

“Shame on me,” White told ABC affiliate KTRK in Houston.

“I’m a sucker, I guess,” she said. “I believed it.”

Her gullibility and her eagerness to collect the $250,000 prize instead cost her $750.

The Facebook message that told her she had won appeared to have come from a friend at work. The “friend” told White to contact another person via Facebook to collect her winnings. In order to collect, however, she was instructed to make two wire transfers totaling about $750 to an individual in South Africa to cover the taxes. White said she was promised the money would be delivered to her home on Monday, KTRK reported, but the money never came. When she later asked her coworker about the lottery, he said he had no knowledge of it, KTRK reported.

White appears to have been the victim of what the FBI calls an “advance fee scheme.” That’s when a victim pays money to someone while expecting something of greater value, such as a loan or gift.

Adam Levin, chairman of Identity Theft 911 and security columnist for ABC News, said fee scams are quite common these days.

“Social networking sites have become petri dishes for those whose day-job is the exploitation of others,” Levin said. “They are the new casino of dreams where the game is rigged against true believers, dreamers and perpetual optimists. Advance fee scams are but one common vial of snake oil in the many pockets of a con-man’s overcoat.”

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office told ABC News that a complaint was filed on Tuesday and it was turned over to the criminal investigation bureau.

White could not be reached for comment by ABC News.

Facebook told ABC News, “Scams violate our policies, and we take action on accounts found to be spreading them.” The spokesman pointed readers to the Facebook Help Center to avoid scams. “We recommend being suspicious of claims that sound too good to be true.”

A woman in Texas says she was conned out of $750 in a Facebook scam that led her to believe she had won the Powerball lottery. ]]>