An influx of pages pretending to be New Zealand retailers or shopping centres have popped up on Facebook trying to lure people into entering fake competitions. Westfield, Bunnings and Noel Leeming have all been affected by the impostor pages and have had to issue caution notices to customers.rn
The scam pages impersonate large retailers or shopping centres by promoting competitions for a variety of lavish prizes.
The supposed prizes on offer include Mac cosmetics $5000 gift cards, iPhones and even the chance to let loose in a Bunnings Warehouse store to for 20 minutes and grab anything you want.
The competitions encourage people to like, comment and share the posts made by the pages, causing them to gain traction and reach an even wider network of people.
One competition post by a page called ‘Bunnings – Warehouse’ had 17,000 likes and 17,000 shares at the time of writing.
However, Bunnings doesn’t have an official Facebook page for the New Zealand market.
Upon closer look, the page has many red flags: It had no other posts on it apart from the post about the competition, there were obvious spelling and grammar errors within the post and the page has no other information, such as the retailer’s contact details.
Another scam post by a page called “Westfield – Auckland” garnered more than 25,000 likes on a competition post offering Mac cosmetic packs and $2000 flight vouchers.
Westfield Auckland issued a post on Facebook warning customers that the page wasn’t legitimate.
The Base Shopping Centre in Hamilton was also affected, with a fake page impersonating it offering people $5000 gift cards and free iPhones.
Noel Leeming has also had to stress to its customers it’s not the one behind a post claiming to give away free iPhones.
Most of the pages have since been deleted by Facebook, but the Bunnings – Warehouse page remains in place, despite Bunnings contacting Facebook.
A Bunnings spokesperson said the company was frustrated by the page still being in place.
“As soon as we were made aware of these deceptive pages, Bunnings immediately contacted Facebook to request that they be removed. We are awaiting confirmation from Facebook and share customers’ frustrations about the misleading nature and the time it’s taking to remove this scam.” (UPDATED: The page has since been removed.)
According to NetSafe executive director Martin Cocker, scam pages impersonating well known and trusted brands aren’t uncommon.
He told Newstalk ZB websites linked to the pages could be used to spread viruses or to gain personal information off unsuspecting Facebook users, which could then be used for fraud.
Retail NZ general manager of public affairs Greg Harford says if a retailer sees a scam page impersonating their business, they should get in touch with Facebook.
“If this happens, our advice to retailers is to contact Facebook and alert them to the scam, notify their customers via social media channels and their website that a scam exists and, if fraud is involved, report the matter to the police,” Harford says.
Both Facebook pages and individual posts can be reported if something is amiss.
With a post, this is done by clicking the top right-hand drop down arrow, while pages can be reported via the dropdown arrow beside the ‘Like’ button.