How to Avoid the Facebook Olive Garden Scam

Social media users and fans of salad and garlic breadsticks be warned.  Hackers on Facebook are using images of Olive Garden food tagged with your Facebook friends to spread their scam across the site.  Here is how to avoid it.

Popular Italian restaurant chain Olive Garden fell victim to yet another Facebook scam over the weekend when hackers began tagging Facebook users in friend’s photo albums with pictures of its hearty lasagnas and famous salad and complementary breadsticks.

The catch?  Messages like, “Olive Garden Restaurant is giving out free dinners for a full month! Pickup yours today !!!
[LINK]” are, once again, too good to be true.

It’s not the first time scammers have used the lure of seeing friends’ names tagged in albums to spread their scam, even if the album contains no pictures of your friends at all.  It’s also not the first time Olive Garden has been hit, with similar scams targeting the restaurant appearing just last month and in March of last year.

But if you make, or have already made, the mistake of falling for the offers and clicking the link in the photos’ captions, you’ll see you are directed not to a free Italian meal, but to an authorization page where the hackers hope you will “allow” them access to your Facebook page to spread the scam to your friends.

Don’t.  Instead, click the “Leave app” option at the bottom right of the page to avoid being a further target.

If you didn’t get that message soon enough, however, you likely learned the hard way that clicking “Allow” prompts the hackers to create an album on your Facebook page with your friends tagged in images of Olive Garden food.

And it allows the hackers to direct you to an off-site survey that earns them, not you, money for each survey completed.

The only thing you can do in that case, once the damage has been done, is to cancel the app’s access rights to your page, and delete the offending photo album. (Click here for a how-to video from IT security firm Sophos explaining the process.)

There is no evidence that Olive Garden itself is behind the scam, as confirmed on the official Olive Garden Facebook Fan Page.

“Please be careful viewing posts, events, or photo albums promising Olive Garden offers when not on our official page. Many scams promising free items, are really just spammers/scammers efforts to gain access to your account. These are not associated with Olive Garden – only messages from Olive Garden posted here should be trusted. If you have questions, please ask! If you’ve been affected, see below,” the April 10th post reads.

The chain directs its Facebook followers to the Facebook Privacy page where you can review how to update your privacy settings to keep your personal information safe on the site.