If you’re a frequent Facebook user you know all about those “free” ads that pop up on your timeline — postings that offer two free Air Canada tickets, a $100 Ikea gift certificate or free pizzas, to mention just a few.
The problem is, they’re not real. The offers, shared countless times by unsuspecting Facebook users, illegally use well-known company names and logos.
Calgary resident Arthene Riggs saw the so-called Air Canada offer after it was shared by her sister, who received it from one of her friends.
“I thought, ‘Oh, my sister sent it. I should be good. Let me just try it and from then it’s been a nightmare,”‘ Riggs said.
Her account was subsequently shut down by Facebook, which sent a message saying the offer was spam. She had to open a new account with a different name, losing all her contacts, before Facebook subsequently gave her instructions to restore her original account.
A look at Facebook feeds shows Riggs is not alone. Many have shared an offer for a $100 Ikea coupon, which was also a scam. It was shared widely in Nova Scotia, where Ikea is opening a much-anticipated store this month.
“Please be aware this is not an Ikea website or a website affiliated to Ikea and the offer is not authorized by Ikea,” a company spokesperson told CBC News.
But aside from losing your Facebook account, what is the danger of liking, sharing or answering questions on fake offers?
Ed McHugh, a marketing expert at Nova Scotia Community College, said in some cases the fake offers are intended to infect your device with a virus or worm. In other cases, it’s hackers out to see how many people they can fool.
The problem, he said, is sharing or liking the offers “can lead us down a rabbit hole to anywhere on the planet.”
“You don’t know what kind of villains or viruses you’re opening yourself up to, which could destroy the technology you have, or maybe even be phish that could take down the technology and phones of friends,” he said.
Air Canada and Pizza Hut
The Air Canada offer has been around for almost two years. On Sept. 23, 2015, Air Canada posted this message on its Facebook site: “There is currently a scam on Facebook that claims to offer two free Air Canada tickets. To protect your personal information, do not respond, share with your friends or ‘like’ the post.”
In response to the most recent fake coupon, Air Canada spokesperson Isabelle Arthur said the…