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Fake Facebook pages promise free gifts in exchange for 'Likes'

Promotions purporting to be from Apple and Beats Electronics offer "unsealed" hardware in exchange for "Likes" in an apparent scam to build fan page numbers.

A promotion for free iPad Minis on a fake Facebook page.
Screenshot by Steven Musil/CNET

A new hoax is making the rounds on Facebook, promising to give away expensive personal electronics items in exchange for a simple "Like."

One of the earliest examples of this hoax popped up a couple of days ago, inviting Facebook users to "Like" a page for a chance to be randomly picked to receive high-end headphones from Beats Electronics that allegedly couldn't be sold because they had been unsealed. Here is the text of the fake promotion:

We have got 1,239 boxes of Dre Beats and 250 Monster Beats By Dr Dre Studio Limited Edition that can't be sold because they have been unsealed. Therefore we are giving them away for free.

Want a pair? Just Share this photo & Like our page and we will choose 1,239 people completely at random on March 15th.

A spokesperson for Beats Electronics, the company founded by hip-hop producer Dr Dre and music mogul Jimmy Iovine, told CNET it is not affiliated with the fake offer and has contacted Facebook to have the page removed.

An apparently fake promotion that hasn't disappeared yet is one for dozens of Apple tablets on an official-looking Facebook page that identifies itself as "Apple" and includes a banner with images of Apple products. This is its fake offer:

We have got 82 boxes of iPad Mini's [sic] that can't be sold because they have been unsealed. Therefore we are giving them away for free.

Just Share this photo & Like our page and we will choose 82 people completely at random on March 17th.

Good luck!

The page already has nearly 47,000 "Likes" by people apparently unaware that Apple sells plenty of refurbished hardware, making such a giveaway unnecessary and unlikely. Apple, which has a legitimate Facebook page with nearly 9 million "Likes," has been contacted for comment and we will update this report when we learn more.

Fake Apple page on Facebook has nearly 47,000 "Likes," far below the nearly 9 million the real Apple fan page has logged. Screenshot by Steven Musil/CNET

Anti-scam site Wafflesatnoon, which first reported on the hoax, theorizes that the fake promotions are part of a scam to falsely inflate fan numbers for pages, which are then sold and renamed with all traces of the fake promotion removed.

Facebook's terms of service prohibit impostor accounts that are created to imitate real people, as well as the posting of content that violates another party's intellectual property rights. Presumably, this prohibition extends to companies as well, but CNET has also contacted Facebook for comment.

Hoaxes are not unheard of on the social-networking giant, often generating a lot of user "Likes" before being revealed as fakes. Last December, a software engineer from Mesa, Ariz., posted a photo of himself with what he claimed was a winning Powerball lottery ticket. More than 2 million people clicked "Like" for a chance to win $1 million before it was proven a hoax.