There is no Facebook Gold Account, but internet scammers would have you believe otherwise.
Gold Membership Trolling has been doing the rounds for a few years now, it started in 2007 as a prank aimed at users of the 4chan image board. Bogus images were posted that supposedly only “Gold Members” could view. This was a troll to fool people into believing that paying for an upgraded account was necessary.
As is the case with many internet memes the Gold account scam has been picked up and is being abused by criminals looking to turn a quick profit.
Facebook pages have been set up with names like “GET YOUR UPGRADE WHILE THEIR FREE!!” which promise the unwary enhanced functionality and freedom from advertisements, among other things. Just a quick look at a couple of features of the Facebook page should set some alarm bells ringing though.
I have been biting my tongue (or my fingers) trying not to mention the terrible spelling error in the page title, but there it is, that’s a clue. Also if you were to examine the list of “comments” on the right you would notice that they are not comments at all, rather an image file which itself also links to the scam web page.
So what’s the point for the scammer? Well if you follow all the instructions, first you invite all your friends to come and check out this (cough) great deal. Then, if you are credulous enough to click the button, you are informed that in order to access the Account Upgrade page you must complete “1 quick, free survey”, different versions of the scam page offer different surveys, but this is where the money is made.
The survey I tested linked (via a couple of affiliate marketing services) to a “Werewolf vs Vampire” quiz which promised to tell me which I am (surely I should know that already?) at the end of the ten questions I am invited to enter my mobile phone number to receive my results. If I do that I am agreeing to pay a £9.00 joining fee followed by £9.00 every week until I cancel my membership via SMS.
Of course the terms and condtions are displayed on the page, but to say that I arrived at the quiz under false pretenses would be understatement to say the least. The scammer will almost certainly be receiving a commission for every activation they drive to the quiz site. There are currently over 50 different versions of this particular page on Facebook, with a total of over 1,000,000 fans! I have informed Facebook and I’m sure they are removing the content as we speak.
Top tips to avoid this kind of scam; before you forward anything to any of your friends or contacts, research it. You may be in time to save yourself but your Aunt Petunia may not be so clued-up.
Never give up your mobile phone number to receive the results of an online quiz or survey, if they can’t show you in a web page, it’s not worth seeing.
Don’t believe any tales about Facebook functionality being added/taken away/made chargeable unless you hear it from Facebook themselves. Criminals are obviously aware of the huge popularity of Facebook and are using it to their advantage.