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You might want to think twice before you hit the “like” button on Facebook. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers of an Internet scam called “like-farming.” It involves an eye-catching post designed to get as many likes, comments and shares as it can. It may appear to be a contest for some prize, or it could be something that appeals to people emotionally. The goal is the same:  scammers use these posts to get their hands on personal information.  

As an example, a post advertising a free RV was recently making the rounds on Facebook. It used the coronavirus pandemic to draw attention: “With a lot of people out of work and COVID-19 keeping them out of work, we know money is tighter more now than ever! So by 4 p.m. Monday, someone who shares and also comments will be the new owner of this 2020 Jayco Greyhawk RV, paid off and ready to drive away, keys in hand – Jayco.”

The actual company, Jayco, is a BBB Accredited Business. They responded on Facebook to this ad, saying, “We are not running a giveaway for a 2020 Seneca or any other Jayco RV. We have taken the necessary steps to report the page(s) responsible for the misleading giveaways. If we ever do run any official Jayco sales event or giveaway, it will be promoted through our official Jayco company page. In addition, we would never ask for your personal information. Under no circumstance should you provide your personal information to anyone.”

Unfortunately, many of these posts are created by scammers, striving to collect as many Facebook “likes” as possible.

What is Like-Farming?

Like-farming on Facebook is a technique in which scammers create an eye-catching post designed to get many likes and shares. Posts often give people emotional reasons to click, like, and share, such as adorable animals, sick children, the promise to win a big prize, or political messages.

Why Do Scammers “Farm” for Likes?

As with many scams, like-farming has several different aims. When scammers ask you to “register” in order to win something or claim an offer, this is a way to steal your personal information. Other versions can be more complex. Often, the post itself is initially harmless, although it is completely fictional. However, when the scammer collects enough likes and shares, they will edit the post and could add something malicious, such as a link to a website that downloads malware to your machine. Other times, once scammers reach their target number of likes, they strip the page’s original content and use it to promote spam products. They may also resell the page on the black market. These buyers can use it to spam followers or harvest the information Facebook provides.

Protect yourself from Like-Farming with these tips

  • Use your good judgement. If a post says you can win something just by sharing the post, it’s probably not true. If a post tugs at your heartstrings and isn’t about someone you know personally, be wary about the truthfulness of its contents. In other words, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Don’t click “like” on every post in your feed. Scammers are counting on getting as many mindless likes as possible, so be sure you only “like” posts and articles that are legitimate. Don’t help scammers spread their con.
  • Be cautious when it comes to sharing your personal information. Never give out personal information, such as your full name, telephone number, address, etc. to a person or company you don’t know or trust.
  • Update your web browser. Make sure you always have the latest version of your browser. That way, if you do accidentally click on a scammer’s post, your browser will be more likely to warn you about suspicious sites.

Report scams to BBB Scam Tracker.

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