Saturday, October 24, 2015

Free Disney World Tickets? Nah, it's another Facebook scam

For more examples, as well as a walk-through of a particular scam, and some investigation into possible motivations for the scammers, see this follow-up story.

Looking for information about the April 2016 "Disneyland 61st Birthday" offer? Sadly, it too is a scam. Scroll to the bottom for details.

Yesterday, someone created a fake "Walt Disney World Epcot." Facebook community. Yes, complete with the period at the end of the name. In 24 hours, it has gained some 900 likes and innumerable shares. That might have something to do with a fraudulent offer and a deadline of tomorrow:

Sharing this post --won't-- win you tickets to Disney World.

How do I know it's a scam?

Well, I can't say with 100% certainty, but nothing about it seems legitimate.

First, it has no association to any actual Disney entity. The community itself was just created yesterday, as you can tell from the "Likes" tab:

This isn't Disney's page. It was just created.

Second, the names for the theme parks are not correct. A Disney-sponsored giveaway would know that the parks are properly called Walt Disney World, and Disneyland (written as one word), not "Disney World" or "Walt Disney World Epcot," and not "Disney Land" (written as two words).

Third, Disney is commonly used as bait for Facebook giveaway scams, going back at least to 2012, as documented in this Snopes article. A follower pointed me to this CNET article from 2013 that describes similar scams offering popular electronics (including iPads and Beats Electronics headphones).

Why do this?

Your guess is as good as mine. Previous "offers" required victims to go to an independent website and perform some actions to "earn" tickets. This one claims to be a random drawing of those that like and share the offer. Most likely, this is a scam to gain as many likes as possible, and then rename or sell the listing for some other purpose. Alternately, since the scam pages tend to be taken down rather quickly, it could be an attempt to harvest information from the profiles of Facebook users that like the pages. Regardless, bear in mind that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Updated November 2

If you missed the opportunity to fall for the previous scam, fear not: two more nearly-identical scams appeared on Facebook over the weekend. Like the previous, these are "offered" by non-official pages, that slightly mangle the actual park property names, and that are brand new Facebook pages created just for this scam.

Unfortunately, "free" is enticing, so much so in fact that the first link below has gained over 13,000 likes already since it was posted yesterday.

Update January 25, 2016

A reader tipped me off to another scam that just popped up today. Amazingly, this one has garnered over 30,000 shares in less than 24 hours. "Free" is an enticing offer.

Clicking this link WON'T win you a 7-night Disney World trip and $5,000 cash.

Update March 7, 2016

This article started getting a surge of traffic today. It turns out there is a new scam, and astute readers were looking for information on whether it was real. In this case, the bait is sneaky: Internet registrars have opened up some new "top-level domains." You no doubt recognize .com, .net, .org, .gov, etc. as the common end of a website address. A newcomer is ".club" - which this scammer has taken advantage of, creating a website "disney.magicyourway[.]club" that looks like a legitimate Disney website offering free tickets in exchange for sharing the link with friends. As with every other scam though, you won't get any tickets. All you will do is spread the scam.

Update April 28, 2016

A reader tipped me off to another scam this week, this one claiming to offer 4 free tickets in honor of Disneyland's 61st birthday. The scam is similar to those before: sign into Facebook, share the offer with a bunch of friends, and get your tickets. Of course, there are no free tickets. In fact, this time, the bait itself gives away the scam if you read it closely: it is a poor reproduction of a "free meal" coupon, and in the small print says "Separate Theme Park admission required." Sorry: there's no such thing as a free lunch!

For those following along at home, the links to the scams I've come across are:


For more examples, as well as a walk-through of a particular scam, and some investigation into possible motivations for the scammers, see this follow-up story.

Do you have something to add? A question you'd like answered? Think I'm out of my mind? Join the conversation below, reach out by email at david (at), or hit me up on Twitter at @dnlongen