In early March 2021, readers alerted us to a Facebook scam that involved a Bora Bora vacation getaway. This led us to revisit Facebook pages like Las Vegas Travel that advertised a Las Vegas vacation giveaway.
We previously made note of the suspicious Vegas page in July 2020. At the time, we archived a post from a different, though similar one: Las Vegas Vacations. At least one of the pages had a Russian page manager.
On July 2, we noticed that the Las Vegas Travel page had shared a post from Las Vegas Vacations. It mentioned a purported grand opening celebration for a resort. "We're going to celebrate our grand opening by doing something special for you. We will be rewarding someone who has shared then commented by August 26th with a 7-night stay for up to 5 people in a luxury suite. Don't worry about flights and transfers, it's all included."
Just like with the Bora Bora getaway, the Las Vegas pages were illegitimate. They should be avoided for the possibility of phishing, identity theft, and other potential consequences. We strongly suggest against submitting any personal information to links on these pages.
Since July, the Las Vegas Travel page attempted to expand its scheme to Instagram. Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Vacations page was still running the "Grand Opening Celebration" scam.
For almost a year and a half, Facebook failed to take action on the illegitimate pages. The Las Vegas Travel Facebook page was created in 2019. As of March 2021, it had around 250,000 followers. Las Vegas Vacations was created in July 2020. It was building toward 50,000 followers.
The scam appeared to work in a similar way to the Bora Bora getaway. In fact, the same person or group of people appeared to manage both fake giveaways. We came to this conclusion after noticing similarities in dates and text on the pages. Further, the same .xyz domain website was listed.
Here's how the scam worked.
First, Facebook users were asked to like, share, and comment with the word: "WIN."
This February - We are giving away 10 nights at the The Venetian Las Vegas for 5 people. Includes Flights, Accommodation & Transfers. You will have 2 years to use the holiday! To participate:
3. Comment: "WIN"
Closes 28th February at 9pm.
Next, a personal Facebook profile that appeared to be a page responded to each entrant. (A Facebook profile is for an individual person. A page is for companies, bands, personalities, etc.)
The response to each entrant read: "You win. Check my profile." The profile named "Las Vegas-Nevanda" had a name in its Facebook URL: facebook.com/titis.ariandini. It read: "Titis Ariandini."
Entrants who clicked to view the "Las Vegas-Nevanda" profile were led to yet another post. It advised Facebook users to visit a link to register for a prize.
One Facebook user named Jason appeared to believe the scam giveaway was real. In the same comment, he also referred to effective measures to reduce the chance of more deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic as a "communist shutdown."
The link in the post led to a registration page that mirrored scammy websites we've seen before.
The registration page resulted in affiliate marketing links for streaming movie websites. This was where the Bora Bora getaway pages ended as well. The point of the affiliate marketing was for the scammers to make commissions on signups on the streaming movie websites.
Again, it was also possible that the scam involved phishing, identity theft, and other dangerous outcomes.
We found a number of other pages that shared the Las Vegas scams. They appeared to be in the same network of Facebook pages. They included: Maldives 2021, Bora Bora Vacations, Cancun Tours, New York Christmas Vacations, Maldives Getaways, Santorini - Greece, Package Holidays 2021, Dominican Republic Vacations 2021, Bali Tourism, Visit Hawaii, Seychelles Holidays, Tourism Bali, Cabo Tourism, Cabo San Lucas 2021, and Bali Holidays.
We noticed that some of these pages were scrubbed of their past scam posts. This allowed the page managers to plead innocence and continue running their post-and-delete operations. Further, this list of pages perhaps only scratched the surface of the entire scam empire.
In sum, the giveaways that showed up on the Las Vegas Travel and Las Vegas Vacations Facebook pages were not legitimate. Facebook failed to take action on these scams despite their existence dating back to at least 2019. As a rule, it's always good to look for the "verified" badge on Facebook pages.