Equestrian world targeted by social media scams using fake show pages

  • A major equestrian venue has warned people to be aware of fake social media pages asking for credit card details, after a group cloned the centre’s Facebook page.

    Arena UK, Lincolnshire, which hosts a range of events and championships, became aware that a Facebook page posing as the venue had been created and was advertising events.

    Arena UK co-owner Lauren Fogg told H&H the venue had cancelled some shows owing to the recent storms but the fake page continued to advertise the events.

    “First of all we had our whole page cloned – we managed to sort that but then another page was set up and was advertising events. They were adding ‘2020’ to the end of every event and thankfully some people got in touch asking if we had seen it and if it was real or not,” she said.

    “We’ve reported it to Facebook and asked everyone who saw it to report it too but unfortunately Facebook wasn’t the quickest to deal with it – or they have a look, say it’s fine and leave it on. We’re finding it very difficult to get Facebook to take it down.”

    The fake event pages advertise live-streaming of shows and ask users to input credit card details in order to watch.

    “It’s bad – we don’t want people to think we’re not secure here as a show centre,” said Lauren.

    “We do our best to make sure all our servers are secure and I don’t want people to think we’ve been targeted because we don’t have good cyber security – we take a lot of time and money to make sure we’re safe for everyone to visit our sites.”

    Lauren said she put up a post on the Arena UK page warning people of the fake page, but the imitators then copied the warning.

    “They used our warning to promote it even more,” she said. “I think the people behind it are a group that’s come across equestrianism and thought this is a good way to scam people.

    “They’ve even got an event up already for our British Dressage area festival in September. We had to change the date so originally they put up the wrong date but then they realised and changed it, they’re quite savvy – they’re not just randomly doing it and leaving it, they’re revisiting everything.”

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    Lauren urged people to be vigilant online.

    “Make sure it’s the correct page you’re visiting – it’s so easy to get scammed. If anyone is worried they should alert us then we can take the issue further and make sure they don’t get scammed by these people. It’s scary – people don’t realise and then click on the links.”

    The page has now been removed. A Facebook spokesman thanked H&H for bringing the issue to the company’s attention, adding that it uses a combination of automatic tools and human review to remove fraudulent behaviour from its platforms, and encourages people to use reporting tools if they seen this kind of behaviour.

    “We have removed this page, which violated our policies on fraud and deception,” he said. “We continue to invest in people and technology to identify and remove this content. As part of this work, we donated £3m to Citizens Advice to deliver a new UK scam action programme and set up a dedicated reporting tool, supported by a specialist internal operations team.”

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