If you've been active on Facebook lately, you might've noticed your Feed cluttered with various posts that all promise the chance to win thousands of dollars in cash, plus five admission tickets to Walt Disney World. All you have to do is “Like” and “Share” that post, and maybe click a link leading to a non-Facebook website.
Don't do any of this. There's no chance you'll win these valuable prizes, because they don't actually exist. At best you'll clutter your friend's Feeds with fraudulent posts, at worst you'll infect your computer with very dangerous malware – and either way, you'll help contribute to a scam artist's success.
Such posts are nothing but fertilizer spread by a particular type of Facebook scam artist known as a like-farmer. Like-farming, or share-farming, is a scam almost as old as Facebook itself. Like-farmers start pages and fill them with content dedicated to collecting as many comments, “Likes” and “Shares” as possible in the shortest amount of time.
Then, once the page has a sufficiently high popularity rating, the farmer either removes the original content and replaces it with something else (usually malware or scam advertising); leaves the page as is and uses it as a platform to spread malware, harvests people's marketing information or engages in other harmful activities; or outright sells the now-popular site to cybercriminals in a black market web forum.
This is all in complete violation of Facebook policy, of course, but con artists by definition tend not to follow the rules.
In the past week, at least three new Disney-flavored pieces of like-farming bait started making the rounds on Facebook, all from a single like-farming page named “Disney World.”
The category listing on that Facebook page's cover photo claims that “Disney World.” (with a period) is a “Community Organization.”
Right away you can see three indicators of a scam. First of all, the Disney corporation does not own or operate any theme parks named “Disney World” — although it does have a “Walt Disney World” park in Florida.
The second scam sign is the period at the end of the name: in addition to altering the names of legitimate businesses (such as the Walt-less “Disney World”), like-farmers will often use unnecessary punctuation to distinguish their page name from an already existing one. So if you see page names such as “Walt Disney World.” or “Six Flags.” or “Six Flag's”, you can safely assume the actual Disney or Six Flags companies aren't behind those pages.
The third scam indicator is the “Community Organization” subheading. The real Walt Disney World Facebook page accurately identifies it as a theme park. (And the real page is filled with various forms of pro-Disney advertising, not repeated offers to give away hundreds or thousands of dollars in cash and tickets.)
On June 19, the “Disney World. Community Organization” page put up a new post – a photograph showing a half-dozen gift bags decorated with pictures of Disney princesses. On the afternoon of June 25 the post had the following caption (all errors lifted verbatim from the original, except for spaces added to disable the live-link web address):
Attention we're giving you the chance to win a Disney World Vacation for up to 5 people with a $5,000 give-away.
Share, Like & Comment then go here for a chance to win: www. Win-disney-world-vacations .com
Limited time only, Like to keep updated on current giveaways.
At the top of that post, you can see that it has been “edited.” Anytime you see an edited Facebook post, you can click on the gray word “edited” and see the post's full editing history. Turns out the like-farming scammer edited that post on the morning of June 22; the original caption posted June 19th said this:
We're giving 200 people the chance of winning one of these Disney hampers, each hamper will contain lots of Disney goodies, $2,000 cash and 5 tickets to the Disney World resort.
To win just Share & Like (Comment to double chances)
Ends 19th June, like our page for winners announcements. Good luck.
Disclaimer: while researching this article I did not click on that win-vacations link, and you shouldn't either. My computer does have pretty good antivirus and malware protection, and hopefully yours does too, but why take unnecessary risks? (Especially since some of the latest ransomware variants are apparently immune to detection by standard antivirus software programs.)
Not only does the scammer not have any money or tickets to give away, he didn't even photograph his own gift bags! The photo was lifted off the page of a currently inactive Etsy seller who hand-made those “Disney Princess Goodie Bags” (which the like-farmer supposedly stuffed with a total of 1,000 Disney-park admission tickets plus $400,000 cash spending money).
Then, on June 23, the “Disney World. Community Organization” Facebook page put up two more posts, one in the morning and another at night, both making similar offers: you can supposedly win $5,000 and Disney tickets for five, if you like, share and comment on the post.
The “Disney World. Community Organization” Facebook page is not the only like-farm operating under that particular name. A search for pages named “Disney World.” (two words followed by a period) yields at least eight different like-farm variants: in addition to the “Community Organization” already discussed, there's one identifying as a “Food/Beverages” company on the banner photo; at least twodifferent “Disney World.” pages in “Transport/Freight,” a “Computer/Technology” page; “Disney World.” in Engineering/Construction; a “University” (whose name features not just an unnecessary period but also a capitalization error: the page name is “DIsney World.” with the first two letters of “Disney” in upper-case); and a “Travel/Leisure” group.
There's almost sure to be more Disney World-with-a-period pages out there; the previous list is what I found after about half an hour of slogging through Facebook search results.
Similarly scammy ...
You can find similarly scammy offers searching for other Disney-name variants such as “Disney-World.” (note the period and the hyphen) or “Walt Disney-World” (hyphen but no period).
There's also such oddities as the “Walt Disney Land” page (the real Disneyland park in California has a one-word name) with a “Local business” banner. which, as of June 25, has some fairly impressive statistics (27k people “like” this) and a page history dating back to 2010. Yet there's not a single post visible on that page, anywhere.
How does a Facebook page collect over 27,000 “likes” without posting any content?
It doesn't. What's happening is the “like farmer” has already stripped whatever posts he used to collect likes and shares – almost certainly posts promising the chance to win valuable prizes – and is presumably holding it until he's ready to add more scam-bait posts.
In all such examples – and the many more you could surely find, if you spend enough time searching for Disney-name variations of Facebook – the incorrect name or unnecessary punctuation was only the first of many signs that these are scammy like-farming pages; the main clue is the content. With any post you see on Facebook, remember that if you see such phrases as “Like and share to win a valuable prize!” there's almost certain to be a like-farmer behind the post.