A Facebook scam promising 150 "lucky fans" a year of free New World groceries has duped thousands of people, attracting more than 34,000 comments and 20,000 shares within a matter of hours.
The since-deleted post was shared under a fake New World Facebook page, promoting "a year of free groceries to 150 lucky fans" under the guise of an anniversary competition. The post encouraged Facebook users to share and comment by January 15 to be in to win, alongside photos of boxed groceries.
A spokesperson for New World's parent company, Foodstuffs, confirmed that Facebook had been contacted to have the page shut down.
Foodstuffs also shared a warning to supermarket shoppers on New World's verified Facebook page earlier on Thursday.
"There is currently a scam competition being promoted on Facebook by a fake New World Facebook account," the company cautioned. "This is not a New World competition and we recommend you do not click any links or provide any of your personal details."
A scam alert posted to New World's website on Thursday also reiterated "this is not a New World Competition and has not been posted by New World. This is not our official account. We recommend that you do not click on any links or provide any personal information".
The spokesperson reminded customers to always check New World's website or official Facebook to ensure a promotion's legitimacy.
In a statement to Stuff, cyber-safety organisation NetSafe said although entrants will not necessarily be affected by a computer virus, they could be exposed to future efforts by scammers.
NetSafe CEO Martin Cocker said even if potential contestants don't make a payment, registering for a competition already provides scammers with "a lot of data".
Cocker advised people to do their homework and search for the promotion independently. He also said to avoid clicking on advertisements or links until the post's authenticity is verified.
Like many scams, this Facebook fraud had a few tell-tale signs of illegitimacy.
"Often the page or account won't have the legitimate name or web address because they're already been claimed by the business," Cocker explained.
For example, the web address for the fake New World page had an upper-case 'I' instead of a lower-case 'l'.
The images of groceries also showed the boxes marked with the Salvation Army instead of New World's logo.
The page also was unverified, meaning it didn't have the blue tick of authenticity like New World's official page.
Although New World shared the scam alert on its website on Thursday, it appears the fake page has since been taken down.