Club staff believed to have fixed competition

Euan McTear

Staff at a Glasgow nightclub are believed to have attempted rigging a Freshers’ Week facebook competition in order to win a trip to Ibiza, a MacBook Pro and a set of Sennheiser headphones.

Club ShangriLa, of The Arches, announced a Facebook competition on 6 September in which nine prizes were to be randomly drawn twelve days later, ranging from a weekend in Ibiza to a free pint.

Hopefuls had to like and share the photo album detailing the competition. Interest was immediately high, with 341 liking the album and 472 users sharing it. When the draw was made on 18 September, it emerged that three of the winning profiles were possibly fake and had all been created as early as 7 September.

The profile of the Ibiza trip winner, Jamie Baines, apparently from Glasgow, was made using a profile picture actually belonging to a Brandyn Evans in British Columbia, Canada. Jamie’s profile contained only the one – copied – profile picture, one cover photo, had no friends and liked only one page: that of Club ShangriLa.

The winner of the second prize, the MacBook Pro, was a Steven Gray, supposedly from Edinburgh. The creator of Gray’s profile had gone to the effort of liking several pages as well as the ShangriLa page. However, yet again the profile seemingly mirrored another unsuspecting victim of copying – Ben Ferris of California, USA, whose profile picture was used.

The third fake account, that of Hayley Grant, winner of the headphones, had used a profile picture and cover photo of a Melissa Munoz from Georgia, USA. Grant’s profile  was also created on 7 September and had only ever used one profile picture, one cover photo and liked one page – Club ShangriLa – before being drawn as a winner in the ‘Mega Giveaway’. Grant’s profile also had no friends.

Coincidentally, the real Ferris is friends with both Evans and Munoz on Facebook, which suggests that the fraudster used related profiles.

When the Glasgow Guardian contacted Club ShangriLa to ask about the fake profiles, they commented: “This is something one of the team highlighted when we copied this formula of ‘share’ and ‘like’ competition, but we never thought it would be an issue with fake accounts.”

The spokesperson also said that to collect any prize, ID must be provided and that a deadline had been put in place before all unclaimed prizes would be redrawn. At the time, five of the nine prizes had not been claimed, and the Ibiza holiday and MacBook Pro were two of those waiting for the winners to come forward.

The spokesperson later admitted to the Guardian that: “It’s a bit sad as I’m starting to think it may have been staff members.” However, no proof has yet been found that staff members were indeed behind the attempt to rig the competition.

On 23 September, the page revealed that the trip to Ibiza and the MacBook Pro were left unclaimed. The prize of Sennheiser headphones, won by the fake profile of Grant, had instead been given away at one of the club nights – a fact that has not been revealed to the 472 entrants of the competition.

A screenshot later appeared in the competition album, revealing the similarity between Gray’s and Ferris’ profiles. The picture included a warning against using “bogus profiles” in future competitions, and that the remaining prizes would be redrawn.

The weekend trip to Ibiza was redrawn on 25 September, won by Kirsty Mellon. No mention was made of the MacBook Pro prize until 30 September when Club ShangriLa announced on Facebook: “Since some wideo spoiled our massive Prize Draw – A MacBook Pro is up for grabs. ‘Share and like’ this picture to enter. Fake profiles need not enter.”

731 people shared the post to enter the redraw of the second place prize of the original competition. It took until 3 October for a winner, Dave Adams, to be announced. To relieve any suspicion, a picture of Adams holding the computer was published on the ShangriLa page the next week.

‘Like and share’ competitions are particularly frequent on the Club ShangriLa Facebook page and several others have been held since the Freshers’ Week draw. The competition format used by Club ShangriLa has changed, however, with entrants now required to pick up a raffle ticket to take part after liking or sharing the competition on social media.