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Scam warning as fraudsters target equestrian social media

An equine retailer whose Facebook page was copied has issued a warning over scams targeting people entering competitions on social media.

Ruggles Equestrian Ltd has been hosting competitions on its Facebook page during lockdown, offering followers the chance to win items, but twice has been targeted by a fake page pretending to be the retailer. The fake page has been commenting on followers’ posts to say they have won the competition, asking them to click a link and provide their personal details.

Ruggles owner Diane Leake told H&H the fake page is an individual profile using her company name, but with the space between ‘Equestrian’ and ‘Ltd’ missing.

“At first glance it looks real because they are using our images,” she said.

“This competition started on Saturday (6 June) and doesn’t close until 20 June but on Sunday (7 June) the fake page was contacting people saying they had won. We don’t ask our followers to share the competition post publicly on their profiles – they can share it privately – but it’s still happening.”

Diane said she is considering stopping running competitions.

“We normally run three to four competitions a year but due to the lockdown we thought it would be nice to run some extra for people stuck at home. I’ve had messages informing us about the fake page and from people who think our page has been hacked. We’ve been told about it happening to other pages too,” she said.

“If I can’t stop this happening I will have to stop running competitions which would be a shame. It doesn’t reflect well on Ruggles if it looks like my page is involved in a scam and I don’t want my followers being targeted.”

Diane reported the fake page to Facebook and alerted her followers.

“I reported it last time it happened too and lots of my followers have reported it, but nothing has been done,” said Diane. “Facebook told me its not a breach – it’s outrageous. Facebook should be taking more action to protect people.”

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The fake page remains active today (10 June) but a spokesman for Facebook told H&H the account is being investigated.

“Fraudulent activity is not tolerated on our platforms,” he said. “We urge people to report any suspicious posts or ads to us. To help with this we have created a dedicated Facebook scam ads reporting tool so people can directly report scams as soon as they see them.

“We have also donated £3m to Citizens’ Advice to help consumers avoid scams.”

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