McDonald's is NOT giving away "Lifetime Passes" on Facebook!
There's a sucker born every minute...
Anyone who uses Facebook knows that they should take at least three-quarters of the things they read with a grain of salt. In addition to the usual assortment of political half truths, useless celebrity news stories, and other self serving garbage, Facebook is also home to a veritable army of spammers, scammers, and con artists who are continually coming up with new and creative ways to hook the gullible and separate them from their money, their personal information, or both.
One of the newest - and most annoying - Facebook scams involves an official looking ad for a so-called "Lifetime Pass" to McDonald's or another popular fast food restaurant. If the advertisement is to be believed, this "Lifetime Pass" will entitle the bearer to free food at that restaurant chain... for life. All the reader has to do to claim one of these amazing deals, of course, is "like" and "share" the post.
If you're the type of person who sees an ad like this and immediately thinks, "Woohoo! Free Big Macs FOR LIFE? I'm in! Click, click, click! Like, like, like! Share, share share!" -- I'm sorry, but we're going to have to ask you to leave the internet immediately -- because you're just too damned stupid.
If it sounds too good to be true...
Ads like these have been making the rounds on Facebook for several months now - according to the scam busting, fact-checking gurus at Snopes.com, the first "Lifetime Pass" hoax popped up in October of 2015, offering one to patrons of Starbucks Coffee. It's late January 2016 as I write this, and the scammers behind this hoax have certainly been busy little beavers today (January 25th) in particular, because after cruising around Facebook for only a few minutes, I saw posts offering these bogus "Lifetime Passes" for McDonald's, Burger King, and Taco Bell, and I'm told that similar ones for KFC and Wendy's are also circulating. Obviously there are a lot of dummies on FB falling for this nonsense.
The "Lifetime Pass" ads all use the same template, no matter which fast-food chain they claim to come from: a large, eye catching color photo of the restaurant's food, with the chain's logo on the top accompanied by an official looking bar code. (Woo! Anything with a bar code on it has just GOT to be legit, right?) Reading the ad copy should set off several immediate alarm bells, because it's riddled with awkward phrasing and numerous grammatical errors.
The ad's headline reads:
(Name of restaurant) is Giving-away free Lifetime Pass on it's (number) Anniversary (limited time offer)
Get Yours now & Enjoy Free (name of restaurant) for lifetime
Note the haphazard use of capital letters, the random hyphen inserted between "Giving" and "away" for no apparent reason, use of "it's" instead of "its," and "for lifetime" instead of "for a lifetime." Whoever wrote this ad copy, it's a pretty safe bet that English is not their native language.
Let's look at this logically. Shouldn't it seem a little suspicious that this same ad is popping up for more than one restaurant chain at a time? What are the odds that two or more of these massive fast-food conglomerates would all celebrate an "anniversary" on the same day? Not to mention, such a "lifetime" deal would likely end in financial ruin for any retailer or restaurant dumb enough to try offering it on a social media site with tens of millions of users. Fast food joints would quickly be overrun by freeloaders looking to claim gratis grub, and the chain would be out of business within hours.
So What Happens if I Click the Link?
I sure as hell was not going to click on one of these bogus ads just for the sake of writing about the experience on HubPages, but I feel pretty safe in saying "nothing good" will come of it. According to our friends at Snopes, clicking on ads like these will generally re-direct you to a site outside of Facebook (though it will still look like you're logged onto part of FB), where you'll be asked to answer a number of survey questions in order to claim your Lifetime Pass. What happens next? At best, you might be asked to provide your bank account info or credit card number to cover the "shipping and handling" or "processing fees" required to claim your non-existent "pass." By this point, even the most inexperienced internet Noob should be able to smell a rat, and hopefully they'll bail out of the transaction before the phishers get their financial information. At worst, connecting to the spammers' site could fill your computer with a hefty buffet platter of malware, spyware, viruses, and, who knows, maybe even midget amputee barnyard snuff pornography. Have fun getting THAT mess off your hard drive. I hope your anti-virus program is up to date!!
"Scamboogery! Watch out! Don't look now!"
So who "shares" these things, anyway?
The "Lifetime Pass" posts I saw on Facebook today did not come from people in my personal "friends list," which means that I (thankfully) have extraordinarily intelligent friends. (Yay to all of you!) However, the ads were popping up like mushrooms on a number of Facebook "Groups" that I belonged to -- where they were immediately called out by other group members for being spam.
I can't say for certain if the postings in these groups came from spammers/phishers who were using bogus accounts to spread the scam, or from misguided individuals who genuinely thought that the ads were legit and that they were doing us all a favor by sharing it with the group(s). Since I mainly belong to Facebook groups that cater to fans of heavy metal music and/or horror movies -- neither of which have anything to do with fast-food discounts - I am inclined to believe the former.
"Get a Job, mother@#$%'er!"
In conclusion...don't be an idiot.
If you happen to come across one of these too-good-to-be-true offers in your Facebook feed, you can do one of two things: alert the Facebook Powers that Be by using the "Report Post" function, or if it's posted in a group, use the "Report to Admin" function so that the page's administrator(s) can take care of it.
If you're feeling particularly saucy, you might leave a snide comment under the offending post after reporting it. My go-to post in cases like these is a picture of the Vikings from the famous Monty Python sketch singing "Spam-a-dee SPAM, marvelous SPAM," but occasionally I'll go for the Body Count video clip shown above (warning: the song lyrics are extremely NSFW). I realize that the people who post these scams rarely, if ever, return to their posts to see if anyone has responded to it, but the possibility keeps me entertained (and I have, over the years, gotten into several very entertaining wars of words with non English speaking scammers, both on Facebook and off of it. I guess you can call it a hobby.)
I hope this article has helped enable you to recognize a Facebook scam when you see it. Now you know... and knowing is half the battle. Stay safe out there!!
This Hub was first posted less than ten days ago. In that time, the free fast-food offers seem to have disappeared... but similar "ads" have turned up touting "free" bottles of Jack Daniels' whiskey and gift certificates to the Whole Foods supermarket chain. If these ads - or others like them - turn up in your FB feed, resist the urge to click for a freebie. Give them the middle finger and move on with your life!