It’s a huge problem!
Have you heard of social media “like-farming”?
Every day in my news feeds I see my friends and family being tricked and scammed into liking/sharing/commenting on posts by criminals preying on their good nature, gullibility, guilt, or plain stupidity. If you fall for this scam you are helping criminals!
Let me just say….this is not a theory of mine or some notion of what I think goes on….IT HAPPENS IT’S REAL…it’s all over Facebook and chances are you have already been a victim!
What is like-farming?
Like-farming is all over social media especially on Facebook and it’s becoming more popular everyday. It might seem harmless liking/sharing and commenting on posts but criminals are using this method to make money illegally by tricking users into liking fake posts. It’s illegal to sell Facebook pages but it is common practice these days and pages with a huge number of likes can fetch a huge amount of money. As Facebook page names can be changed it enables criminals to for example create a page called iPhone 6 then post offering free iPhones if you like/share/comment (of course they don’t actually have anything to give away) this gets the page many likes, I once see a fake page like this and it had over 3,000,000 ….yep 3 million likes, that just shows how effective this scam is. The page can then be sold to other criminals who will then change the name then use it to run other scams on all those people who had liked previously in a vain hope of getting a free iPhone and they and their friends are yet again targeted by more scams. I have seen Facebook pages up for sale for hundreds of thousands $$$.
How it works
- You click LIKE or SHARE or make a COMMENT – this shows on your Facebook news feed to your friends
- Your friends click LIKE or SHARE or make a COMMENT – and the trend continues
- As the LIKES reach significant numbers – the scammer sells the fake page to another scammer for a payment ie: $2 per 100 likes or similar. They run multiple pages at once so they are earning a reasonable illegal income!
- The secondary scammer starts posting fake products or fake marketing promotions attracting more “likes” and “shares” or sets up another fake page linked to all those followers who liked, shared and commented on the original fake post.
The different types of like-farming
- Type Amen or keep scrolling
- Photos of sick children or animals for prayers/Amens or Facebook donations
- Like & share for Free iPhones, Cars, Holidays, gift cards etc.
- No one will share this post.
- Share this post, it was banned by Facebook.
- Fake celebrity deaths
- Like & share if you think this kitten is cute?
- Like & share if you love your Mum
- Like & share if you hate cancer (pretty dumb, we all hate cancer)
- Like & share for God or scroll for Satan?
- Comment then click on picture to see what happens (nothing will happen!)
- Share this photo of money to become rich (ermmm nope)
These are all typical and common examples, but there are many more.
Why do criminals do it?
Anyone can create a Facebook page and title it whatever they want, it also only takes about 5 minutes to create a page and start some like-farming posts. So clearly they do it because it’s a very easy and relatively fast way to make a great deal of money. What helps makes it easy is the fact people are gullible and probably think “oh what harm can it do?” simply liking a post, well as I have explained IT DOES A GREAT DEAL OF HARM!
Like-farming can also be used by people simply trying to gain likes for their page, might seem harmless but do you really like that page or post? chances are NO you don’t and you have been misled into liking it, so yeah it’s still fraud of sorts or misconception in the least.
Because your likes/shares and comments spread the scam you are helping the criminals to exploit more people like your family and friends.
If the page owner has access to Facebook’s developer tools, they can collect data on the people who like the page. Personal information like gender, location and age can be used to target more personalized attacks. This can lead to serious crimes like identity theft.
Sometimes fake offers can lead you to fake malicious websites that can infect your computer or device with malware or spyware that will attempt to steal your personal information and passwords that can also lead to identity theft, credit theft and other fraudulent crimes.
What can you do to avoid it?
Wise up! be more cautious and careful, more suspicious even of what your liking and sharing, look at the type of examples I have listed above, posts like that are 99.9% certain to be like-farming posts. I mean really? a page is giving away a free car or iPhone? come on get real or if you share a photo of money are you really going to come into some money yourself?….no of course not. Likes don’t = prayers and everyone hates cancer so it’s stupid sharing posts like that.
What if I have already been a victim of like-farming?
If you have been a victim you can’t really search for all the posts and unlike them, but you can go through your liked pages easily enough and unlike those pages that you actually don’t like.