Trading Standards has warned people about of a Center Parcs scam that has tricked more than 17,000 Brits in a few hours.
The Government body explained how scammers set up a fake Center Parcs page yesterday offering Facebook users the chance to win a free stay at Longleat resort in Warminster.
But the competition was a scam, designed to trick people into giving away their personal details.
Wiltshire Trading Standards (WTS) has issued an online warning to potential victims urging them to be vigilant.
Posting to Facebook WTS, it shared a series of images from the scammers page asking users to share their post.
The bogus page called Center Parcs Longleat Resort promised “a free Center Parcs holiday for 4 at Longleat and £500 to spend” including “free travel”.
Other images show the page was only established yesterday.
WTS wrote: “Spoiler Alert – You aren’t going to win a holiday but you may lose out to scammers.
“This page was set up 3 hours ago and already has almost 18k shares.
“The page was only set up today and does not belong to the official @centerparcsuk.
“Scammers set up these pages to obtain your personal data or to collect likes (in this case the page is later sold/changed names by the scammers to fill your newsfeed with spam).
“By ‘signing up’ you’re giving the scammers your personal details.
“Our advice is to spend a few minutes checking out pages before liking and sharing posts such as these. When was the page set up? How many posts are on the original page?
“Does the page have the blue tick to confirm the profile is the official page of the business it’s claiming to be?”
Some Facebook users were shocked at how people fell for the trick.
Pat Brown commented: “The old adage applies to the internet as well. If something looks too good to be true it probably is.”
Abi Pearson wrote: “I’m amazed at how many people fall for these posts!”
Sinead Nolan said: “If you do fall for this maybe you shouldn’t be allowed on the internet unsupervised.”
A spokeswoman for Center Parcs today said: “Like a lot of well-known brands, our brand name has been used without permission by unauthorised Facebook pages on a number of occasions.
“We have been made aware of an unauthorised page on Facebook offering the chance to win a Center Parcs break and can confirm this is not genuine. We have reported this to Facebook.
“We would like to remind people not to enter their details or share the page. If ever in doubt about a post, please visit our official Facebook page to check if it is genuine.”
It appears that the page has since been removed, however another fake Center Parcs page created on the same day still exists and has been liked by more than 56,000 times.