Aussies latest target in horrific new scam

Aussies are the latest targets in a worldwide scam that is circulating on Facebook, as the scam lures in victims with the promise of very cheap smartphones.

This scam is unlike normal Facebook scams, as online hackers have gone to great lengths to make it look like legitimate news articles are endorsing the very cheap smartphones.

Other publications that have been caught up in the scam include The Guardian, BBC, Stuff NZ, Yahoo News! And news.com.au.

The scam has also been operating worldwide in other countries, such as the United States, New Zealand, Singapore, Norway, Sweden and France.

Swinburne University social media major director Dr Belinda Barnet said to news.com.au that the attention to detail from the scammers is “particularly disturbing”.

The fake news articles offer Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphones for $1 to $3, pretending that the very cheap deal is a part of a “marketing strategy” to inflate its popularity over Apple.

“Samsung can regain AU users by giving away extremely low-priced phones to people and converting them to repeat Samsung customers who will spread the word to their friends,” the fraudulent article said.

Readers are then encouraged to click a link to “claim their offer”, which leads to a copied Samsung website that extracts names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and their credit card details to pay for the $3 phone. 

Victims instead report being charged $99 by an unknown company and receiving no phone in return.

“These scams are proliferating more and more and Facebook is not doing enough to counter it,” Dr Barnet. “It’s obviously concerning that an actual masthead is being used.

“If we regulate and make social media companies responsible for the pieces they promote — even if we didn’t regulate organic posts but just the things that make Facebook money — that would solve a lot of problems.”

Samsung says that they are aware of this scam and have urged customers to "be vigilant".

"Samsung is aware of this hoax offer for the Samsung Galaxy S10. We can confirm this is not an official Samsung promotion and we caution customers to be vigilant when considering third-party offers for Samsung products," the company said in a statement.

"If customers would like to verify an offer or promotion regarding a Samsung product, they can contact Samsung for further information."

Facebook said that the social network uses automated and human moderators to identify scams but is unable to “catch every ad” that promotes a hoax.

“We do not want ads that include widely debunked misinformation or make misleading and unsubstantiated claims on our platform,” he said.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Digital Platform Inquiry found that scams on digital platforms have grown by 188 per cent over four years.

“The ACCC is concerned by the increase in this behaviour and the use of digital platforms to facilitate such conduct,” the report found.

“This is damaging for businesses that inadvertently display these advertisements, and for consumers who fall victim to these scams and suffer both financial and non-financial loss.”

This article was originally published on Over60.