Unlike Twitter, Instagram doesn’t have a “Verified Accounts” program to let users know for sure they are dealing with the real personalities, brands or companies.
Celebrities usually indulge in selfies on Instagram, proving they are the real deal. But for brands, companies and organizations, recognizing official Instagram accounts from fake ones isn’t so easy. From our research, many Instagrammers have been fooled. The most effective way to prevent yourself for being scammed, is to know about them. Here’s the list of the ones we came across.
1. Furby ($200,000 in Thailand)
Furby, the little furry creatures that originally hit the market in the 90’s seem to be climbing back to fame recently, particularly in the Asian continent. A Thai woman saw an opportunity to make some pocket money off it. By acting as a 16-year-old girl offering promotional deals, she reportedly managed to rob $200,000 (6 Million baht).
Why exactly did she have to play a 16 year old is unclear, and the story doesn’t say how many people were duped, but $200k is a large amount of money for what sounds like such a simple plan.
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Image from Furby’s official Instagram account
2. JetBlue and other airlines
A wave of Instagram scams appeared in 2012 when several airlines promised VIP deals and giveaways. As it turned out, none of these were real, nor were the accounts that originated them.
All the accounts mentioned GIVEAWAYS in their name, which should have been a warning sign from the get go: Why would a brand set up a special account for their offers when they have an existing one, with an established follower-base? It just wouldn’t make sense.
American Airlines, Jet Blue, Delta, United Airlines and Emirates were all victims of this mass-scale scam. They quickly warned their fans via their other networks:
JetBlue does not have an official @instagram account. Any accounts or promotions you may currently see there are not ours.
— JetBlue Airways (@JetBlue) November 4, 2012
But no matter how quickly the official responses came, these fake Instagram accounts quickly drew 20K followers in. Most of these likely got tricked into handing money.
3. Isolated scams
Isolated scams are often the most difficult to recognize. It takes a trained eye to tell a fake Instagram account from an official Instagram account.
Chipotle, Best Buy, Target, H&M are some examples we came across. Here are telling signs that an Instagram account is fake:
- Its username ends with “_ig” or “giveaways”
- They promise FREE gifts to the first 10k followers (or any other number)
- They ask for your password (NO legitimate company will ever ask for your password, EVER.)
- They ask for your personal information over Instagram
- They invite you to click on shortened urls (be wary of those)
This list is non-exhaustive and new practices might appear with time.
A photo from the real Chipotle account.
“Long story short, we hear a story too good to be true… it ain’t.” Lt. Aldo Raine, Inglourious Basterds
These words sum up the state of mind to adopt in order to avoid falling for these fake deals.
When in doubt, ask the brand! It will only take 2 minutes and an email, and can keep you and your wallet out of trouble.
This article was originally posted on The Nitrogram Blog: Advanced Analytics and Social Media Marketing for Instagram