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Don't comment on 'free money' social media posts — the FTC says they're scams

A popular scam on social media has the Federal Trade Commission issuing a warning for consumers.

If you spend time on social media, you may have come across a post from someone offering to share money. For example, they may claim to be a lottery winner and want to give away $100,000 to the first thousand people who message them. If you reply, they might ask you to buy gift cards to cover taxes or processing fees and then have you share the card and PIN numbers with them.  

The FTC says only scammers ask for gift cards as payment. The agency urges consumers to ignore “free money” posts. Even commenting by poking fun at the offer can lead to your social media feed being targeted by more scammers.

If you see an offer of free money on social media, here’s advice from the FTC

  • Don’t pay to get a prize. Real prizes are free. Anyone who asks you to pay a fee for “taxes,” “shipping and handling charges,” or “processing fees” to get your prize is a scammer. Stop and walk away.
  • Ignore “free money” posts. Anyone in your social media feed saying they have money to give you is a scammer.
  • Never send money to someone you met online. Especially one who insists you only pay with gift cardswire transferscryptocurrency, or payment apps like Apple Pay, CashApp, PayPal, or Zelle. That’s a sign of a scam.

  Here’s how to report fraud to the FTC.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.