Abrar Ifaz

Research Officer, Dismislab
Deceptive offers in the name of bKash with 600 advertisements on Facebook
This article is more than 2 months old

Deceptive offers in the name of bKash with 600 advertisements on Facebook

Abrar Ifaz

Research Officer, Dismislab

On the occasion of Valentine’s Day, a post circulating on Facebook claims that bKash is offering 1400 Taka as a gift to its customers (1, 2, 3). Upon verification, it is evident that the information about bKash offering 1400 Taka as a Valentine’s Day gift is not accurate. Instead, through this deceptive post, bKash customers are being subjected to fraudulent activities. From 1 to 12 February, over 600 misleading posts of this nature have been disseminated on Facebook through advertisements, originating from at least nine pages, all sharing the same name, “bKash Offer.”

Upon searching for “bKash Offer” on Facebook, at least 23 pages with similar names can be found. Additionally, there are other pages with names such as “bKash February Offer,” “bKash Apnar Offer,” or “bKash Ajker Offer,” among others. Most of these pages were opened under different names and changed their names in January-February. And most of the pages don’t show any posts. For some pages, the only visible content is a profile picture featuring the bKash logo.

A search within the Facebook Ads Library reveals that in February, more than 600 advertisements of this nature have been run from nine pages. Among these, four pages are deactivated. The remaining five pages are still active but do not display any posts. The links attached to the ads – get the same message if users enter them. The headline reads, “On the occasion of February 14, Valentine’s Day, bKash is offering all bKash customers a 1400 Taka love gift.”

The instructions for receiving the gift state that the recipient must provide the amount of money present in their bKash account and their name. Additionally, if the bKash account balance exceeds 30,000 Taka, the information should be given in another link

When contacted the bKash support team on this issue it said, it has been noticed recently that some fraudsters are trying to steal money and various information from bash customers by creating various fake websites and showing various false advertisements through social media or any other means. At present, bKash has not announced any such offer and bKash has nothing to do with such offers.

In the meantime, several people have posted and commented on Facebook that they have been victims of this kind of fraud. A victim wrote, “I saw on a website on Facebook that on the occasion of February 14th Valentine’s Day, bKash will give a gift of 1400 Taka to all its customers. Believing it, I also greedily did what was necessary and later saw that the remaining 15 Taka in my bKash account was taken away. So I was cheated, no one else should be. Be careful..!” Another victim commented on a page post, “This offer is fake. No one should fall for this. It’s cheating. I was duped by them. Those who are saying that they have received the money, are involved in this fraud cycle”. In the comments of posts on fraudulent pages, some other Facebook users warned about these pages or reported being scammed themselves.

Recently, Bangladeshi actress Prarthana Fardin Dighi lost one and a half lakh Taka through a fraudulent phone call in the bKash scam. Later, with the assistance of the DB Police, she managed to recover the lost amount.

Is this the first time?

Financial fraud through misleading posts in the name of bKash or other various organizations is not a new occurrence. Prior to this, fact-check reports have been published on at least 20 instances of special day-centric deceptive offers using the name of bKash on different special occasions. In a fact-check report of Rumor Scanner from February 2023, it was revealed that a misleading post on Facebook claimed that bKash was offering 2100 Taka as a gift on February 21st. Similar claims have been seen on Facebook advertisements this year as well. However, access to the link accompanying that advertisement is not available.

In addition, in the year 2023, five fact-check reports have been published by different fact-checking organizations focusing on bKash (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Observing these fact-check reports, it is evident that in each case, deceptive posts of this nature are created, mentioning a specific day or event. For instance, events such as 21st February, bKash’s 10th anniversary, Pohela Boishakh, Six crore milestone of customers, and Eid ul-Adha have been exploited for these fraudulent activities. In all these events, a link is provided, and upon clicking, users are prompted with questions related to their bKash account. Providing answers to these questions allows the perpetrators to gain control over the user’s account.

What does Facebook say about this?

According to Meta Ad Standards, content identified by third-party fact-checkers will not be allowed to run as advertisements. Additionally, content containing misinformation is also restricted from being promoted as Meta advertisements.

However, deceptive content, similar to bKash offers, can easily be promoted as advertisements on Facebook. A new page can be created or the name of an existing page can be changed to create Facebook advertisements instantly. This is evident in the case of advertisements related to bKash offers. Searching in the Facebook Ad Library on February 12th reveals that the same deceptive advertisement has been run 207 times from one page. Furthermore, the same advertisement has been run 199 and 198 times from two other pages.

Non-political advertisements can be found in the Ad Library only when they are active. As a result, it is not possible to obtain a comprehensive picture of how many such advertisements of this nature have been circulated over time. Once the advertisement period expires, it is no longer stored in the Ad Library.