Have a Facebook pal dangling before you the unbelievable opportunity to get a $1,000 gift card by being among the first (you fill in the blank) fans? Don't do it.
One of the great things about social networking is the amazing reach it can have when people take an interest in something they see. People are interested in Ikea. They're interested in getting something for free -- and $1,000 is a lot to get for free. So, naturally word spreads fast.
And if you didn't get notified about the deal this time, don't worry, it will keep coming up over and over again as it has in recent days. There's nothing legitimate about this offer, but the risks are real.
One of the Ikea "giveaways" going on now has grown from 500 fans to 2,000 in less than an hour. A sucker really is born every minute (my apologies to those I know who have fallen for this).
Ikea is none too happy about being the bait to get people sucked in.
"Needless to say, this is most frustrating," Ikea spokeswoman Mona Liss told WalletPop.com.
She said this is the third time this month such a phony offer has been seen by the company, which has issued warnings on its legitimate Facebook page. Ikea's legal team persuaded Facebook to take down the first two phony fan pages offering gift cards, Liss said.
"As social media is a new frontier for us all, we are in the process of figuring out how we get to the source of this situation," she said. "We welcome AOL alerting consumers in any way possible about this false promo. It deeply concerns us that our customers are being misled and exploited."
Everything about the fake fan page is deceptive. Look at the info tab: Nothing there. Try clicking on the comments section under the registration tab. It's all fake. It's a static image without the clickable links you'll always find on Facebook.
What these folks are coaxing people into doing is giving up their full list of Facebook friends and then getting them to divulge all sorts of personal information. There's a lot that unsavory people can do with that, including targeting all those people with new scams. The thing is once you've gotten sucked into one of these you become a target and risk being added to a so-called suckers list.
If you follow the instructions on the fan page, you'll jump offsite to giftdepotdirect.com and learn -- if you care to read the terms -- that the only way to qualify for this gift card is to sign up for 13 services requiring paid subscriptions. Free gift card? Right.
So, don't take it out on the Swedish furniture, but let everyone you know not to get lured by this trickery. Maybe you can get a free muffin at Starbucks as a promotion, but think twice (or three times or four times) if the offering is anything that you could get excited about.
Look at the offer. Ask yourself: Is it possible? Why would they do that? Could this be a scam?
In this case, the answers are: Not really. They wouldn't. And, yes.
This doesn't only apply to Ikea. Like the Nigerian letter, once these people find a way to get what they want, they'll create tons of variations to keep you off balance.
Don't let them win.
When you see this sort of thing, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
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