Online hoaxes and scams are aplenty on the internet and social media seems to be its breeding ground. At Fact Crescendo we are always on the alert for such online frauds, including this post published last April by a Facebook page claiming to be an official page of BMW in Sri Lanka with over 26,000 followers, incidentally more followers than the official BMW page! The attractive offer of the opportunity to win a BMW X3, merely by sharing a post and liking to a Facebook page meant that the post was shared over 34,000 times.
The viral post, which was published on 14th April this year by a page named BMW Sri Lanka-Pvt,Ltd and continues to get traction to date as we noticed several people commenting on the old post. The post, which ran in Sinhala, made the following claim:
BMW මොටර් රථ සමාගමේ 82 වන සංවත්සරය වෙනුවෙන් පිරිනමන මොටර් රථ 5 දිනා ගැනිමට දැන්ම එක්වන්න.
1. පළමුව අපගේ Page එක Like කරන්න.
2. ඔබ දිනන මොටර් රථයේ වර්ණය පැහැදිලිව සදහන් කරන්න.
3. මෙම ලිපිය හැකිතාක් Share කරන්න.
අහඹු ලෙස තෝරාගත් ජයග්රාහකයින් 5 දෙනෙකුට BMW X3 මොටර් රථ ප්රදානය කෙරේ.
ජයග්රහණය කිරිම සදහා මෙම page එකට like කර තිබිම comment කර තිබිම අනිවාර්යය බව මතක තබා ගන්න.ඉහත පියවර තුනම සම්පුර්ණ නොකරන අය තරගයෙන් ඉවත් කෙරේ
Translated to English as below:
The BMW vehicle company is celebrating their 82nd birthday by giving you the opportunity to win one of 5 cars being gifted.
1. Start by liking our page.
2. Clearly state the colour of the car you will be winning.
3. Share this post as much as possible
5 randomly selected winners will receive a BMW X3 from us
To win, remember that it is essential that you like this page and comment on this post. People who do not follow all three steps mentioned above will not be eligible to win.
The original post can be seen below:
Considering the value of the X3 in Sri Lanka and the facts presented in the viral post along with number of user comments about fake campaigns, we felt it was necessary to verify its authenticity.
We began our fact check by running a Google Reverse Image Search for the photograph of the X3 car, wrapped in a blue ribbon that ran with the viral post to discover two key findings.
The first was that we discovered yet another page claiming to be an official BMW Sri Lanka page on Facebook. Named BMW automobiles sri lanka, this page too ran a story using the same photograph and claiming that “To celebrate 104th BMW company anniversary we arrange great opportunity to win luxury X3 jeep” with a similar set of instructions to the previous page’s viral post. The post, which ran on 5th April as seen below, had not received a lot of traction compared to the previous post.
The next thing we discovered was that the photo was actually taken in Australia by a decor company BOWZZ who had partnered with BMW in Australia for their Christmas marketing campaign, which was months before the Sri Lankan posts were published. The photo was part of several taken at BMW showrooms across Australia and ran in a blog post on the Bowzz website titled “Christmas Marketing Campaign: BMW all Wrapped up for Christmas”. A screenshot from the full photo collage in the blog post can be seen below, with the image from the viral posts at the very end:
In addition to verifying the authenticity of the image, we also researched the facts presented in the claim, including the two claims that it was the 82nd and 104th birthday of the automobile manufacturer. BMW’s official website, which includes an interactive timeline of the firm’s history confirms that they were founded in 1916, which makes the second post’s claim of 104 years in fact accurate.
The fraudulent Facebook had gone to the extent of misleading the social media user with a fake post of first lucky winner, which was shared over 12,000 times as well. This image dating back to 2017 was published in numerous reports back then with the caption “winners of Safari Win 10 BMW 5 series car promotion third lucky draw, Romeo Jr Laloma Marcado and Musthafa CK receiving the key from Zainul Abideen, Director and General Manager, Safari Group, along with other Safari officials at a ceremony held at Safari Mall, Abu Hamour in Qatar”
We checked the official, verified BMW fan page of BMW Sri Lanka and did not notice any offers recently, hence contacted the BMW offices in Sri Lanka for an official statement. They confirmed that the posts were hoaxes by scam pages and were not by any means part of the official marketing communications for the BMW brand in Sri Lanka. The BMW team also would like to assure the public that they have taken necessary measures to counter this issue and request public to avoid responding to such fraud messages with any personal information.
Online frauds related to BMW is nothing new and we noticed an official communique sent out by BMW USA in response to a series of fake emails, which were being circulated as BMW official promotions. Number of media reports had alerted public about such scams in here, here & here.
We once again urge social media user not to be misled with such fake campaigns and to consult with official, verified social media channels. Below are official channels of BMW Sri Lanka
|BMW SL Official FB||BMW SL Official Insta|
We debunked a similar fake marketing campaign few days ago with this fact check, carried out by a Facebook page claiming to be Apple Inc., and the concerned page has now removed all the false content.
Based on the several points of evidence and the official statement from the BMW offices in Sri Lanka it is clear that both the fraudulent Facebook pages attempting to impersonate the firm. Therefore, all the promotional notices run by these pages are false. BMW team in Sri Lanka assures the public such anniversary promotions are non-existent and to avoid responding to such fraud messages with any personal information.
Title:MW is NOT offering FREE CARS in SRI LANKA TO CELEBRATE THEIR ANNIVERSARY!Fact Check By: Shanaya Seneviratne