I was wondering how long it was going to take before it happened to me. Sweepstakes scammers spoofing my account phishing my followers for credit card information. I am surprised it happened on TikTok before Instagram as this problem is rampant on Instagram.
It’s something that every sweeper needs to learn. How to decern a real account vs a fake one, and the same for direct messages claiming you are a winner.
The first check is the blue check. Is the account hosting the giveaway verified? This isn’t a foolproof as many real accounts are not verified, including mine, but it’s a good thing to look for.
The second is to look at the name. The fake accounts will steal the company’s image but change the name slightly. Double letters. Dots. Dashes. It’s easy to spot the difference if you know what you are looking for.
STYLE OF MESSAGE
I haven’t won a TikTok giveaway yet, but here is the difference between a legitimate Instagram win and a fake one. The real one is short, direct and doesn’t as for a lot of information besides where to send the prize. The fake one asks you to click on a link, uses a lot of emojis, etc. The fake notification was so long I couldn’t even screenshot it in one image!
They also may try replying to your Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok entry on the legitimate sponsor’s contest post/video, enticing you to click on a link to claim your prize.
Again, as the above images show, a real win will not ask you to click a link. If you need to fill out an affidavit or release, they will ask for your email and send it to you there for you to fill out and send back. The email will come from a real person that works for the sponsor or the advertising agency, which you can easily verify.
REQUEST FOR PAYMENT
You will never be asked to pay to receive a prize. I do unboxing videos which you can watch on Facebook, YouTube and TikTok, and you will see that I never mention paying to get those prizes. (Links to my social channels at the top of this website.) You clearly see the boxes are marked Canada Post, FedEx, UPS, etc.
Again, I never paid for shipping, handling, taxes, etc. If you do have to pay income taxes on a prize win, you will recieve a FORM-1099 MISC in the mail the following calandar year and you pay those taxes to the IRS. Never to the sponsor or agency.
I won’t ask if you ever received a fake or spam notification, or message because I am sure you have. Worse is these are the obvious examples praying those new to the hobby or those that have not won before on social media.
It’s why companies now frequently announce to their entrants, in the post, the comments or in a separate post, to be aware of copy cats. It is a giant Whack-A-Mole game, but keep blocking and reporting every account and message you find.
Do not let scammers deter you from entering, and winning real prizes!