Scam Alert: Stay Safe Online & Avoid This One Type of Freebie
At Magic Freebies, it's our job to stay 'in the know' about all the freebies you can find, both online and offline. We hear about new freebies in a variety of different ways, and one of those ways is to see offers spotted by our wonderful Facebook group members.
Over the last year or so, we’ve seen an influx of Amazon sellers offering their products for free, in exchange for a review. Our in-house freebie hunting team, our dedicated Facebook group moderators and our hawk-eyed group members have spotted this trend in sponsored Facebook adverts. These offers are a concern because they look and sound genuine, but they actually breach Amazon's customer review policy and can land you in trouble - even if you didn't know you were breaking the rules!
What is a Sponsored Ad?
Here's an example of a genuine sponsored ad from a reputable business:
The important thing to remember is that Facebook sponsored ads are NOT a scam, but some scammers are using Facebook ads as a way to draw people in. A sponsored Facebook ad is simply a way for a company to pay to advertise to people who might find their brand or product interesting. Most sponsored ads will contain a clickable link that takes you to the company's website, or to their Facebook page. Other sponsored ads contain a Messenger button which, when clicked, will open a chat window on Facebook with the brand.
If you're ever worried about the legitimacy of an offer, you can click the name of the company to check their profile. As a rule, big and established brands often have a blue tick to confirm they're real, and it always helps to check how many Likes and Follows the page has. If a big brand only has a handful of followers, this sounds a little suspicious. If you're really not sure - consider finding the brand's website and searching the site for a link to their social media channels - the Facebook page they link to from there will be legitimate.
How Will I Know the Offer is a Scam?
See below for some example screenshots of rebate offers spotted on Facebook:
These are all offers found by us, or by our Facebook group members, and in every instance, the clickable button took you to a Messenger conversation or to an Amazon product. The seller then explains that you can buy their product and in exchange for a review and then they will refund you the full amount, making the item into a freebie.
Unfortunately, this has left some people with their Amazon and/or PayPal accounts shut down, due to the fact that this practice breaches Amazon's review policy. In some cases, the sellers have been known to reverse the refund on PayPal and take the money back again, leaving consumers paying full-price for an item they were promised they'd receive for free.
Do These Offers Break the Law?
According to HG.org, a reputable law and government information site, it is a legal 'gray area'. The HG website states,
"One way to avoid fake reviews or the paid relationship is to offer free products to consumers. They may then draft a genuine article or comment on the website about how the product is delicious, works perfectly or similar reviews. This may be frowned upon by certain companies, but if the business does not directly request the review in exchange, it may be both legal and ethical business practices."
Unfortunately, in the case of these freebies, the sellers are directly requesting a review in exchange for the item. Not only is this practice legally questionable, it simply breaches Amazon's rules and this can be enough to have your account closed down.
Where Can I Find Amazon's Rules on Customer Reviews?
You can read all of Amazon's policies on customer product reviews by clicking here. For the purposes of this article we've included a screenshot below, showing the policy these nasty scams violate.
If you ever have a question about an offer, we recommend Facebook group for a supportive community who are always happy to help.directly so we can take a look into it, or you can join our
If you've been ripped off or had your Amazon or Paypal account shut down because of an offer like this, please send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org