The charity announced the competition on Friday 20 May, but was forced to close the competition three days later on Monday 23 May, after scammers set up fraudulent social media accounts ‘to gain personal/financial details from supporters’.
The offending social media pages replicated WAA photos and posts from the official social media pages, as well as the charity’s new logo, which was unveiled the same Friday as the launch of the competition.
However, the accounts also included a fake, compressed ‘bit.ly’ link in lieu of the official website address, including no other contact details. Other tell-tale signs included a misplaced apostrophe in the title of the Facebook page.
The charity warned against clicking on any links associated with these accounts and requested that supporters report any suspicious social media accounts operating under its name.
In a statement, the charity said that it was ‘working tirelessly’ to ‘get the relevant social media companies to act’, adding that: “It's a sad world where somebody would want to target a lifesaving charity. Thank you for your support.”
The fake pages were set up within days of the competition’s launch
WAA released an initial warning on Sunday 22 May following the discovery of the fake Instagram account created in their name. The charity recommended that users should check the post amount before interacting with an account claiming to represent them – WAA’s official Instagram page has over 1,000 posts – and to be wary of any account which asks for payment details or personal data.
WAA later discovered the existence of a similarly fraudulent account on Facebook, also operating under the charity’s branding. The Facebook page had been requesting that WAA supporters register their details online via a link, with the intention of exploiting them.