iPhone
Welfare recipients are being promised free iPhones and other smartphones in Facebook groups. Image by AP PHOTO

Free government iPhone offer doesn’t ring true

William Summers July 4, 2023
WHAT WAS CLAIMED

The government is offering free smartphones to anyone who receives welfare payments.

OUR VERDICT

False. The free phones don't exist. The posts are phishing and marketing scams.

Scammers are telling welfare recipients that they’re eligible for free smartphones from the Australian government.

This is false. The government is not giving out free smartphones and the Facebook posts are part of a marketing scam designed to lead users to websites selling electronic goods among other phishing schemes.

The Facebook posts (archived here) have no connection to the Australian government and appear to be aimed at US audiences.

Phone Scam Post
 The posts say Australians on welfare are eligible for free government phones. 

The captions typically say something like: “I just received my iphone 13 pro max from the Government and I am so grateful.

“Are you on Food stamps, Medical-aid, Section 8 or any form of Government assistance? Follow the link below to also get your free phone.”

The reference to Section 8 is a US government program that offers housing subsidies to eligible low-income households.

‘Medical-aid’ appears to be a misspelling of the US Medicaid program.

Some of the links in the posts lead to websites that claim the smartphones are available for “eligible Americans” (see for example here).

However, none of those websites appear to provide a way for users to claim a free smartphone.

AAP FactCheck found no evidence the Facebook posts in question were affiliated with either the US or the Australian government.

Scammers are making thousands of Facebook posts that encourage people to share content or click suspicious links.

That’s why it’s vital to know how to spot a potential scam post.

HOW TO SPOT A SCAM POST ON FACEBOOK – THE RED FLAGS

Treat posts appealing for help to find lost people or pets, offering extremely cheap or free products and services with caution if they include more than one of the following features:

* The person encourages everyone to share their post widely.

* They don’t provide their contact details or they ask people to send them a DM or PM (direct message or private message).

* The post includes only very vague details about the location of the person, pet or the giveaway.

* If the account of the person posting is less than a year old, has no profile picture, has very few friends, or isn’t located in the same area as the subject of their post.

* If you can’t comment on the post because the person has disabled comments. This is done to stop people from warning others that it’s a scam.

The Verdict

The claim that welfare recipients are eligible for free smartphones provided by the Australian government is false.

The phones do not exist, the users making the posts are not associated with the government and the posts are marketing and phishing scams.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

AAP FactCheck is an accredited member of the International Fact-Checking Network. To keep up with our latest fact checks, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

All information, text and images included on the AAP Websites is for personal use only and may not be re-written, copied, re-sold or re-distributed, framed, linked, shared onto social media or otherwise used whether for compensation of any kind or not, unless you have the prior written permission of AAP. For more information, please refer to our standard terms and conditions.