Becoming an Instagram influencer is big business, with an estimated 3.7 billion sponsored posts on the platform. But, with the number of people whose incomes relies on promoting brands growing rapidly, a new warning has been issued to influencers: scammers now seem to be targeting these accounts
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), scams are now circulating, which usually involve targeting Instagram influencers with fake pitches appearing to be from a charity.
In a scam alert, it’s been reported that people claiming to be from a charitable organization are trying to convince influencers into buying an expensive product, whilst claiming that the money will be given to a particular charity. This claim is untrue, and the scammers are keeping the profits.
How does the scam work?
With more people than ever using social media, scammers have seized the opportunity to make money off unsuspecting users. In this case, influencers are targeted by direct message.
The message claims to be from a charity or a business claiming to be partnering with a charity – the type of organization varies between users. The message then asks the influencer if they would like to become an ambassador or model for the charity as part of a campaign.
If the influencer agrees to the request, they are sent a discount code to purchase the products from the “charity”. However, this is sometimes not an actual charity and the influencer goes on to buy an – often expensive – product, believing the profits go towards the cause.
In some cases, the products don’t arrive as the charity didn’t exist. In other cases, scammers use the name of a real charity without their knowledge and, again, keep the money themselves.
How can influencers protect themselves?
The best way for influencers to protect themselves from this type of scam is to, first and foremost, learn to recognize the signs of a fraudulent message of this nature.
They can do this by asking plenty of questions beforehand, as many scammers will become defensive or even stop responding when pushed for too many details.
If in doubt, they can also do an online search to see if other users have reported scams by people claiming to be from the same organization. In addition to this, a real charity will have information on their website if they do partner deals with other businesses or individuals.
If you’re an influencer and have been targeted by a fake account in this way, the official advice is to report it to Instagram, or the relevant social media platform, directly. They will investigate the matter and remove users that are using the platform to scam others.