Hey Maine, Beware Hoax Facebook Biz Accounts That Look Legitimate
It appears there is a strange new internet prank trend in Maine.
Someone is creating fake social media accounts for well known regional and national businesses. Once these fake accounts have gained a few followers, posts on the pages begin to announce the opening of new Maine locations. In the cases we have seen, they always seem to announce new Augusta locations.
And, the person (or people) go all out. They don’t just steal logos and post them on the page, they create graphics specific to the new location and even make statements that supposedly come from employees of the actual business. And, the locations they select make sense for the type of business that is allegedly going into that space.
On Easter Sunday of 2021, a Facebook post claiming Augusta was getting a Chick-fil-A location went viral. Within a few hours, it had been shared nearly 1,000 times! The post indicated that the new location was going into the old Dunkin location on Bangor Street.
I was really excited when I heard the news and kind of shocked when the Facebook page was pulled down. In hindsight, it does not make much sense that an extremely religious company would choose to announce a new location on the most sacred Sunday for followers of Christ.
Earlier this week, a fake Facebook account announced that the regional brew pub chain Sea Dog Brewing Company was going to be opening a location on Water Street in Augusta. Just like the others, this post included official logos, images of the supposed new location, and even had a timeline of when they planned to begin construction and when the new location would be open.
We’ve also heard that someone created a fake Facebook page for a well-known (and much loved) grocery store chain. That account also announced a new location would be coming to Augusta.
How do you spot these fake accounts? There are usually a few "tells". First, they often seemed to be for specific locations. Like, Bob's Burgers - Bangor or Cooper's Pizza - Augusta. If the company normally does not have local accounts for its locations, this is a massive "tell". They often will only have a few hundred followers, even though they supposedly represent a major company. Another sign is that the "main" (national) account makes no mention of a new location.
Clearly, if there is any doubt in your mind that an account is legit, just reach out to the business's HQ. If they're far enough along in the launch process to put up a Facebook page, they're not going to have an issue telling you if there is a location coming to your town.
WARNING - If you’ve set up a fake Facebook (or other social media account) for a legitimate business, you should know that it could get you into trouble. While the laws about creating fake social media accounts are vague, if anything you do with the fake account benefits you, or you do anything to damage the real company’s reputation, you could find yourself in legal trouble. Turbo Future has a pretty good breakdown of ways you can get into trouble when you make a fake account.
So, why do it? The person isn’t making any money off these fake accounts. Are they just bored?