This is an example of a common scam for gaining Facebook followers

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Multiple posts shared thousands of times on Facebook in Nigeria claim to be giving out smartphones to help students attend online classes during the novel coronavirus pandemic. However, this is one of a growing number of scams aimed at increasing followers of social media pages and accounts.

“HELLO EVERYONE!! All students should enter here and apply for VIVO PHONES to attend online classes because of this pandemic period, VIVO is ready to give away 7000 phones to students to be attending online classes,” part of the post reads, asking readers to type “me” in the comments for a chance to win.

A screenshot taken on June 25, 2020 showing the false post

The post, which we’ve archived here, has racked up more than 2,500 shares since June 15, 2020. Similar claims were shared here by the same Facebook page, using different pictures of mobile phones.

One phone does not exist

The Chinese telecommunications company Vivo is not giving out phones in Nigeria, as claimed by the multiple posts. There are no such promotions on its official social media pages (here on Facebook and here on Instagram).  

“Please be informed that vivo Nigeria is not running any official promo or UGC at the moment,” Vivo Nigeria told AFP Fact Check via its verified Facebook account. 

One of the false posts, archived here, which has now been taken down, also claimed that Vivo is giving away 500 Vivo V21 Pro model phones to teachers and students in Nigeria. But AFP Fact Check ran multiple reverse image searches and found that the phone in the image is just a concept and not an actual phone.

While Vivo V21 Pro is predicted by tech enthusiasts to hit the market soon, the phone itself has not yet been launched by the company. The earliest version of the concept we found was first shared here in April 2020 on a tech review YouTube channel.

Here are pictures of all Vivo phones currently on the market. None of the pictures being paraded here and here is an actual Vivo phone on the market in Nigeria or elsewhere. They are concepts, some of which have been used for other brands (see here and here).

An image shared as part of another false post was taken from Vivo Nigeria’s Instagram page, where it gave gifts to some people who bought a Vivo phone from any “authorised retail store”.

Popular scam

This sort of scam is common in Nigeria. It is used to attract followers to a new Facebook page and for gathering the names, phone numbers and other personal details of unsuspecting Facebook users. 

As soon as you send them a message as instructed in the public post, you get an automatic response saying you have won a phone -- so long as you follow the instruction to share the post in multiple Facebook groups. You are also told to like the page and get others from those groups to like the same page.

A screenshot taken on June 25, 2020 showing the message you get after following instructions on the false post

AFP investigated one such page in August 2019 and found that these pages employ such scams to grow their follower numbers, before selling them on.

One of these pages running the Vivo giveaway scam was converted to a jewellery-and-watches-shop page before it was taken down.

A screenshot taken on June 25, 2020 showing one of the pages converted to a jewellery and watches shop page

One of the pages still active on June 25, 2020, used to be run under a completely different name (“Holuwapelumi”) and featured a profile photo of a baby before it changed its name to “Vivo Mobile Phone Giveaway”, updated its profile photo to a phone, and started posting about the fake giveaway. 

Some other live pages employing similar tactics -- but using different phone brands -- to amass followers have also been archived here, here and here.