It’s a sad reality of Facebook: after tragedy strikes, you can be sure con artists will try to trick people into handing over their hard-earned cash. That’s what happened last week when a Facebook scam offering to send victims of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey on a cruise went viral.
The post, which was shared more than 75,000 times as of last Friday, pretended to represent Carnival Cruise Line, and encouraged hurricane victims to contact cruise director John Heald asking for a free cruise with the hashtag “#Carnivalfamily.” The only problem: the deal wasn’t real. Of course, the scammers wanted victims to pay “taxes and port fees” first to get the offer. The scammers even created a Facebook page in John Heald’s name, and then another one using his late father’s name, to further spread the hoax.
Heald himself took to Facebook to denounce the fraud, and claim he knows the person behind it.
“I know who he is,” Heald said. “He has the brain capacity of something that lies on its back at the bottom of a pond… To do that, to hurt other people like that, you really are a bottom feeder.”
According to The Miami Herald, the post originated on a prank site that lets users create fake posts intended to go viral, then sell them marketers once they do. It’s all just further proof that you need to be skeptical of what you read on Facebook—even content that seems to be coming from a good place.
As we have counseled time and time again, always verify any offers, contests or promotions directly with the company or sponsoring organization. If an offer sounds too good to be true, then you’re better off avoiding it altogether!