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‘Soulless’ fake Facebook post offers free cruises to hurricane victims

OKLAHOMA CITY - Carnival Cruise Lines is not offering free cruises, but that's what one Facebook post would have you believe.

As of Friday, the post had been shared over 75,000 times. The bogus offer reads, “Carnival is now offering free cruises to those effected by the hurricane ... just pay taxes and port fees."

Carnival Cruise Line's senior cruise director and brand ambassador went to social media taking the shyster to task, calling them "soulless, heartless."

“With Twitter and Facebook, people are interested in this disaster and they want to keep updated, so they're constantly checking their social media,” said Julie Bays, who heads Oklahoma's public protection unit. “They could easily be tricked into clicking on a website or page.”

Bay warned that clicking "like" on any post is a bad idea, experts warn. “Like farming" is where someone whips up a bogus Facebook page to lure people with something free, like a cruise. They're after your "like" and "share," and, in this case, they're using the devastation in Texas and Florida to appeal to your emotions.

Once they reach a certain amount of likes, they can sell the page to marketers or scammers, who then turn around and target you.

“There was a gentleman out of California that started a Facebook page,” Bays said. “He got caught trying to collect for some of the victims of Hurricane Sandy, so that happens.”

The bogus post in question appears to have originated from a site called breakingnews247.com, which lets anyone whip up a fake news stories to share on social media in hopes of it going viral for their own personal gain.

As in other situations in life, this timeless advice still applies: do not like or share a post that seems too good to be true.

Still think it might be legitimate? Do your research by searching the URL of the article the social media post originated from. Sometimes a simple search of the headline will bring up scam warnings.