Instagram giveaway scams are prevalent now. You may be tricked into giving away personal information or money in these scams. Knowing all the signs and tips can help you stay safe from these scams.
To help you spot these fake giveaways or scams on Instagram, I have compiled a list of 11 red flags and tips for you to remember.
How Do Instagram Giveaway Scams Work?
Instagram giveaway scams usually operate under the guise of legitimate giveaways, contests, or promotions. They often involve an Instagram account—either a fake one or a hacked legitimate one—that posts an exciting announcement about a giveaway.
The said giveaway usually includes high-value items, like the latest smartphones, designer clothes, or large sums of cash.
To enter the giveaway, you are typically asked to follow the account, like the post, and tag a few friends in the comments. However, the scam doesn’t stop there. The scammers then reach out to you directly, stating that you’ve won the prize.
They might ask for personal information, such as your email address or phone number, supposedly to arrange delivery of the prize. In other cases, they may ask for a small “shipping fee” or “tax” to be paid before the prize can be delivered.
However, the scammers vanish once they have your personal information or money. The Instagram account disappears, and your prize never arrives.
The information you provided could be used for identity theft, or the scammers could simply pocket the money you paid. For example, in some cases, scammers may ask for payment through a money transfer service or gift cards, making it difficult to track and retrieve the funds.
These scams can also spread quickly as they often involve tagging friends in the comments. Your friends could also fall for the scam if you are not careful.
Read also: Instagram contest ideas
11 Red Flags to Spot Instagram Giveaway Scams
How do you identify fake Instagram giveaways? Let’s discuss
#1. Suspicious Name:
One common sign of a scam giveaway is a suspicious account name. Typically, these fake accounts have names that are designed to mimic those of legitimate businesses or popular influencers.
For example, you might come across an account named “@apple_giveaways999,” claiming to represent the tech giant Apple. However, official businesses rarely, if ever, use underscores or numbers in their Instagram handles.
So, if the account name looks odd or unofficial, it’s a good sign that the giveaway might be a scam. Always double-check the account name and compare it to the official account of the business or individual it claims to represent. If there are any discrepancies, it’s likely a scam.
#2. Unrealistic Prize:
Another telltale sign of an Instagram giveaway scam is an overly extravagant or unrealistic prize. For instance, a scam account might promise a brand-new luxury vehicle, an all-expenses-paid vacation, or the latest iPhone to multiple winners.
However, offering such high-value prizes to numerous winners is financially unfeasible for most businesses or individuals. Many genuine giveaways offer smaller, more realistic prizes. If a prize seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Always consider whether the prize makes sense in the context of the person or business offering it. If it doesn’t, that’s a red flag.
#3. Less or Fake Followers:
The number of followers an account has can be a helpful indicator in identifying a scam. A genuine business or influencer will likely have significant followers, often in the thousands or millions.
A fake account, on the other hand, may have a surprisingly low number of followers. Be wary of accounts with less than a hundred followers, especially if they are hosting a high-value giveaway.
For example, if an account named “@luxurybrand_giveaway” with only 50 followers promises a brand new designer bag to multiple winners, it’s probably a scam. A legitimate luxury brand would have a significantly larger following.
However, don’t be fooled by accounts with many followers, either. Some scam accounts may have bought fake followers to appear more credible. Those followers might be fake if an account has thousands of followers but very little engagement (such as likes or comments).
Also, if the followers’ accounts seem inactive or suspicious, they are possibly fake. Always take a moment to scrutinize an account’s followers offering a giveaway. It could save you from falling for a scam.
#4. All Posts Are the Same:
A clear red flag for Instagram giveaway scams is when all the posts on an account are identical or very similar. Genuine businesses and influencers curate varied content to engage with their audience. This includes product photos, promotional videos, customer testimonials, and behind-the-scenes shots.
On the other hand, scam accounts often only have posts related to the giveaway. For instance, if an account named “@free_gadgets_now” only has posts announcing the same extravagant giveaway with no other content, it’s likely a scam. They often use repetitive language and share the same image across multiple posts, another indication of a scam.
Look through the account’s post history before entering any giveaway. If there’s no variety in the content, it’s best to steer clear.
#5. Error in Caption:
Instagram giveaway scams often contain errors in their captions, such as poor grammar, odd phrasing, or spelling mistakes. Legitimate businesses and influencers usually have a high standard of written communication, so a sloppy caption can be a red flag.
For example, a post from a scam account might read, “You a winner! Claim prize now!” or “Tag freinds and get phones fre3”. These examples demonstrate the kind of glaring errors that can indicate a scam.
Moreover, the caption might not provide clear information about the giveaway’s rules, how winners will be chosen, or when the giveaway ends. A legitimate giveaway should have transparent terms and conditions, so be wary if these details are vague or missing.
Another common trick scammers use is to provide contact details in the caption, asking participants to direct message or email them to claim the prize. Genuine giveaways would never require people to share their personal information publicly or via direct messages.
So, observe the language used in the captions. If it’s poorly written or asks for personal information, it’s best to avoid participating.
#6. Fake Engagements:
Scammers often use fake engagements to make their accounts seem more legitimate. This includes buying likes, comments, and followers from bots or other illegitimate sources.
You can spot fake engagements by looking at the quality of the comments on a post. If they are generic or irrelevant to the post, they are most likely from bots. Similarly, if an account has many likes but few comments, it could be a sign of fake engagements.
Fake engagement deceives people into believing the giveaway is popular and trustworthy. So, before entering any Instagram giveaway, take a moment to review the quality and authenticity of its engagements.
#7. Poor Image Quality:
Poor image quality is another sign to look out for when identifying Instagram giveaway scams. Genuine businesses and influencers invest time and resources to create high-quality post visuals. This includes clear, well-lit photos, professional editing, and consistent branding.
On the other hand, scam accounts often use blurry or pixelated images to show signs of poor editing or inconsistent aesthetics. They may reuse the same image across multiple posts or steal images from other sources, which could result in a visible discrepancy in style and quality.
So, before participating in a giveaway, look at the images used. It might be best to avoid entering if they are of poor quality or lack consistency.
#8. Random Unnecessary Hashtags:
Scammers often utilize many irrelevant or unnecessary hashtags in their posts to reach a wider audience.
For instance, if an account named “@free_iphone_giveaway” posts a giveaway with hashtags like #foodlover, #traveltheworld, or #fitnessjourney, it’s a clear red flag. These tags do not correlate with the giveaway and suggest that the account is trying to reach as many people as possible without considering the relevance of the audience.
A legitimate business or influencer will use targeted hashtags that align with their brand and the specific content of the post. So, if the hashtags seem random or unrelated to the giveaway, this could indicate a scam.
#9. Prohibited Entry Terms & Conditions:
A significant red flag for Instagram giveaway scams can be spotted in the entry terms and conditions. Legitimate giveaways adhere to Instagram’s Promotion Guidelines, which prohibit certain entry conditions.
For instance, Instagram does not allow businesses to ask participants to tag themselves in pictures they are not in or to inaccurately tag content or people.
However, scam giveaways may ask you to do exactly this. For example, a post might ask you to “Tag yourself and three friends in this image for a chance to win!” or “Tag this image with five products you like!”. Such demands contradict Instagram’s guidelines and can indicate that the giveaway is not legitimate.
Always take the time to read and understand the terms and conditions before entering a giveaway. If they seem suspicious or contradict Instagram’s Promotion Guidelines, it’s safer to refrain from participating.
#10. Ask for Any Payments or Purchases:
One of the most alarming signs of an Instagram giveaway scam is when the account requests any payment or purchase to claim the prize. A legitimate giveaway will never ask you to pay any fee or purchase to participate or receive the winnings.
For example, a scam account might post a caption saying, “Win this brand-new iPhone! Just pay $10 for shipping to claim your prize!” or “Get a chance to win this designer handbag! All you need to do is buy our $20 mystery box.” These clearly indicate that the giveaway is a scam designed to take your money or gather sensitive credit card information.
Another common trick is asking participants to purchase a product to increase their chances of winning. For instance, “Buy our new skincare cream and triple your chances of winning this trip to Paris!” This is a deceptive sales tactic rather than a genuine giveaway.
A fundamental rule of legitimate giveaways is that they are free to enter and do not require any purchase or payment. If you encounter a giveaway that violates this rule, it is most likely a scam, and it’s best to avoid participating.
#11. Excessive Questions:
Scammers often use Instagram giveaways to extract personal information from unsuspecting participants. If the giveaway asks you to answer excessive questions, it could be a sign of a scam.
For instance, a post might say, “Answer these ten questions and get a chance to win our new product!” where the questions may be overly personal or irrelevant to the giveaway itself.
Also, questions like “What is your mother’s maiden name?” or “In what city did you meet your spouse?” are common security questions for financial services and should raise immediate red flags.
Similarly, a post asking for details such as “What is your favorite color?” or “What was your high school’s mascot?” might seem innocent, but these could also be used as potential security questions.
While a legitimate giveaway might ask for basic contact information so that they can get in touch if you win, they should not require an extensive amount of personal or sensitive details. If a giveaway seems excessively invasive or asks for more information than needed, it’s best to refrain from participating.
If you encounter any of these signs while browsing Instagram giveaways, exercise caution and avoid participating. Don’t forget to report suspicious accounts or posts to Instagram so that they can take appropriate action and prevent others from falling victim to these scams.
Read also: How to spot a fake giveaway on Facebook?
How to Report Fake Giveaways to Instagram?
If you suspect an Instagram giveaway is fake, you can report it to Instagram. Here’s how:
- Navigate to the suspicious post: Open your Instagram application and locate the post you suspect is a fake giveaway.
- Click on the three-dot menu. You’ll find this icon on the upper right side of the post. It opens a menu of more options.
- Select ‘Report’: Find and select the ‘Report’ option in the dropdown list.
- Choose ‘It’s inappropriate’: You’ll be asked why you reported the post. Choose the option that reads ‘It’s inappropriate’.
- Select ‘Report a scam or fraud’: Instagram will prompt you with more options. Choose the one that reads, ‘Report a scam or fraud.’
- Specify the issue: You’ll be asked to provide more details. Select ‘This involves a purchase or service’ if you’re asked to make a payment or ‘This is something else’ if the scam involves another type of fraud.
- Submit the report: After you have selected the relevant options, click on the ‘Submit’ or ‘Report’ button to finalize your report.
Remember, your report is confidential, and Instagram will not disclose your identity to the reported account. After submitting, Instagram’s team will review the reported account or post and take appropriate action if it violates their guidelines. Stay vigilant and help keep the Instagram community safe from scams.
Check out the video to know how to report fake Instagram account.
Hopefully, after reading this guide, you have a clear idea of identifying and avoiding Instagram giveaway scams. Remember, scammers are always coming up with new tricks to deceive users, so staying alert and cautious while participating in giveaways on Instagram or other social media platforms is essential.
And if you find this content helpful, don’t forget to share it with your family and friends to help them stay safe on Instagram.