Scammers are using big Philippine companies to trick Facebook users

Published April 13, 2021, 12:30 PM

by Art Samaniego

If you’re a Facebook user, you need to read this, now! McDonald’s is not giving away 50 dollars in exchange for your Facebook login and password. PLDT is not looking for employees using a Facebook page that could not even spell simple words correctly. Smart is not offering free data boost even if you send them your Facebook credentials. The Globe Telecom FB page with two dots on top of the letter “o” that offers free gifts is not the Philippine telecommunications giant Globe Telecom. If you see these ads on your wall, you have been targeted. Stay away from these pages.

From offering fake messenger upgrades, to (mis)using photos of influential Filipino businessmen and government officials, scammers are now moving to a new level — putting up Facebook pages that look like real pages of big Filipino companies to trick users into giving sensitive information. Criminals are paying Facebook so that you could see these sponsored posts on your timeline, these are paid ads that you see because you are more likely to engage with the ad. These ads are the posts you see on your wall with “sponsored” tags with the names and logos of big Philippine-based companies with very slight variations and if you’re not careful, you could be tricked into believing that these are legitimate Facebook pages.

To understand fully how Facebook ads work, I enrolled in a five-course Facebook marketing specialization via Coursera where I learned the power of Facebook’s targeting strategy. By using features for advertising from Facebook, you could maximize your advertising money by only showing your ads to a specific segment of people who are more likely to engage with it. People who would click your ad and willingly tap on your call to action button.

Here’s an example.

Facebook knows a lot about you and it could share this knowledge with advertisers to better serve its paying customers. If I would like to reach Facebook page admins, who are interested in basketball, who are new parents and live 40 kilometers within Manila I could just create a new audience where my ad would be served. This feature is amazingly helpful to advertisers who have limited advertising money and who do not want to serve the ad outside a given area. The ad will also benefit users as they would only see advertisements that would interest them. This is how detailed targeting works.

You target an audience that would likely engage with your ads.

Here’s the problem that I’ve been sharing a lot on my Facebook wall. The same targeting strategy that’s effective and useful for legit advertisers is being used by scammers. This means scam ads are shown to people who are more likely to click them. Not only that, reporting these ads to Facebook would be disappointing as Facebook would not do any action against its paying advertisers. When a scam ad using the logo of MacDonalds was reported, the social media giant replied saying that the ad does not violate its community standards. The ad says it’s giving 50 dollars for its anniversary and clicking the ad would bring you to a login page that looks like from Facebook but checking the address of the page would show that it is a page that collects Facebook credentials and Facebook finds no problem with this kind of ad.

Facebook’s reply when the scam MacDonald’s ad was reported.

When you log in to fake Facebook login pages, your user names and passwords are recorded by the scammers. The criminals could then login to your account, change your password, update your email and modify your phone number. Since the bad guys are targeting admins of Facebook pages, they could now control not only your account but also the Facebook pages where you are an admin.

If you get messages from people asking for financial assistance on your messenger accounts, verify first before sending anything. You might be giving money to some hackers somewhere in Payatas, Cavite, or Binondo. This is the most common scam that’s happening now on Facebook victimizing lawyers, doctors, pastors, and ordinary users.

Do not trust immediately the ads that you see on Facebook. If the offer is too good to be true, it’s a scam. Check the names of the company properly, if there’s a variation even too small in the name of the company, it’s fake, don’t proceed. If you clicked the ad, and you’re asked to log in to your Facebook account, don’t. It would steal your credentials and take over your account. If you logged in because you wanted to get that latest Huawei or Samsung phone for 25 pesos, change the password immediately and activate two-factor authentication. Just Google how. Be responsible social media users, if you get hacked, you also put your friends and family in danger of being scammed.

The companies used by scammers need to speak up now and ask Facebook to stop these criminals from victimizing innocent users. A lot of reports have been submitted to the government about these scams and so far no action has been taken. If you see these scam ads on your wall, don’t login even if the page looks like a legit Facebook page. The best thing that you could do is post a comment warning other users of the dangers they are facing about these scam ads.

A scam ad that, according to Facebook, does not go against its community standards.

Ascam ad pretending to be from Globe

You will know that it’s a scam by checking the ad copy.