‘People might be duped’: equestrians warned of new social media scam

  • Equestrians have been urged to be on the alert for another potential Facebook scam, after a flurry of fake event profiles have been set up.

    Common scams on social media include profiles purporting to offer live streams of major events, in an attempt to secure customers’ card details, but in these more recent cases, people are sent friend requests from profiles calling themselves the Hickstead Derby Meeting, for example, or Royal Windsor Horse Show. These should be reported and blocked.

    A spokesman for Hickstead told H&H: “We wish the social media platforms would all try to do more to decrease the amount of spammers and scammers that are flooding the equestrian pages. No matter how many we block and report, we keep seeing more and more fake pages and profiles purporting to be Hickstead.”

    The spokesman said that the pages steal Hickstead’s content and text in an attempt to make themselves look legitimate.

    “Our concern is that people might be duped into scams such as clicking on fake ticketing or live-stream links,” she said. “We recommend blocking all these fake pages, and reporting them to Facebook – hopefully if enough people do this, they might actually take action.

    “Hickstead does not have any profiles except our main page, the Hickstead competitors group and our official event pages, and these are linked from our main Facebook page. If in doubt, always search for ticketing or live-stream links using the official event website, and before you join an event page on Facebook, look at who is hosting – if it sounds a bit suspicious, it’s very likely to be fake.”

    A spokesman for Royal Windsor and the London International Horse Show (LIHS) told H&H social media scammers are a “constant problem” for both events.

    “While we do everything we can to keep on top of fake pages and profiles stealing our images and logos, we do encourage fans of both shows to stay vigilant,” she said. “Neither show will ever send friend requests to anyone, or create any Facebook events – so please report pages that do. 

    “The easiest way to see if the pages are real at a glance are by numbers of followers – on Facebook, the real LIHS page has 120,000 followers, the real Royal Windsor Horse Show page has 81,000 followers. We are also very grateful to those who take a moment to report fake pages to Meta – which hugely helps our efforts.”

    A spokesman for Facebook refused to comment on the new ability to have more than one profile on the same account, which it said at launch would allow people to keep work and personal lives separate, for example, or on the complaint that reporting fake pages has no effect. 

    H&H understands that accounts impersonating others go against Facebook’s community guidelines, that they are removed if reported, and that owner Meta works with law enforcement to keep scammers away from the platform.

    Detective inspector Dan Giannasi from the North West Cyber Resilience Centre told H&H social media scams are very common.

    “It’s easy for criminals to create many accounts that appear like legitimate organisations or events,” he said. “It’s crucial to stop and think before engaging with anyone online, especially if you don’t know them or it’s an unsolicited request. Don’t share any personal information or financial details until you are sure it’s genuine.”

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