Facebook scammers want to reach as many potential victims as possible in the shortest possible time. The more people they can get to eyeball their fraudulent material the more profitable their scam campaign will likely be.
To achieve that aim, scammers are increasingly turning to Facebook Live.
For those that may not be aware, Facebook Live “lets people, public figures and Pages share live video with their followers and friends on Facebook”. After the live broadcast is finished the video will remain on the user’s Facebook Page or profile so that fans and friends who missed it can get to see it later on.
Video is very popular on Facebook right now. Users are often more likely to view and interact with a video than they are with a static post. And, overall, video tends to enjoy more reach on the network than other formats. So, scammers are attempting to capitalise on this popularity by presenting their scam posts on Facebook Live.
Here’s an example to illustrate:
Back in April 2017, scammers were promising users a free box of Dunkin Donuts via the following fraudulent giveaway post. The post had no connection to Dunkin Donuts and no donuts were actually being given away.
Come June 2017, and scammers are again promising free Dunkin Donuts, but this time they are using Facebook Live:
Note the “is live now” line beside the Page name in the post and the red “Live” icon on the video.
The video itself is nothing more than a live capture of the fake Dunkin Donuts coupon that plays, continuously and unchanged, for hours at a time.
But, because it is live video, many people are apparently compelled to click through and follow the instructions in the forlorn hope of getting their free donuts.
As I wrote this report I kept the live video open in another browser tab. A constant stream of reaction icons floated across the video screen, denoting that a great many people were indeed participating. And, during the hour or so that I keep the video playing, more than 1000 people posted the requested “thanks” comment.
After the broadcast is finished, the post will remain on the scam Facebook Page waiting for late comers to fall for it. And, in many cases, the scammers will simply repeat the entire Live video process a few hours later, thus gaining yet more victims.
Of course, whether the scammers use more traditional static posts or live video, the underlying scam is the same. Nobody ever wins the promised prizes and participants are often tricked into divulging their personal information on scam survey websites.