As I was chatting with my food influencer friends, we started to talk about some of the scams we’d experienced:
Influencer Scam: Buy Something First
There are a number of apps where you can read a message from the brand about what they are looking for. The company may specify desired gender, ages, social media platforms and follower count. There might be an about us paragraph and a mood board of images. There is usually a list of hashtags and accounts to include. There might be a list of do’s and don’t.
Usually, you need to buy the product first. This might be a packet of muesli, artisan tea, fast food or a new loaf of baked goods. You can take some photos and/or video and then write your caption. Then you’ll submit your work to the app for approval.
If you don’t mind taking a punt AND you will eat the product AND you do not go out of your way to make a special trip to the supermarket to purchase, then sure go ahead.
However, as these apps become more and more popular, you are less likely to be selected. Your pitch will highly likely to be rejected and as a result, you’ll have wasted your time.
Influencer Scam: Random Email Messages
Emails that look and sound dodgy. If someone doesn’t take the time to personalize a message to you and sounds generic, then it’s usually a scam. For example, my target audience gains no benefit from promoting this account. The promise of payment in the future is a straight-up lie.
My name is John. Ran across your IG page and I absolutely love the content that you’re creating! Thought l’d reach out to you and see if you would be interested in a free tarot reading in exchange for a free promotion.
I think you could do really well promoting my Instagram page.
And also if your promotion was satisfying I can make paid collaboration afterwards for our future collaboration.
If you’re interested in that please send me a message on Instagram: @dodgyaccount
Unfortunately, these usually come from a free email account rather than a business account. They typically will have no signature with business or contact details.
Influencer Scam: Direct Messages
The next influencer scam usually comes in the form of a direct message. These are super easy to see that they are faking a company’s account. Please block and report these accounts.
The direct message I received recently had no profile image, zero followers and zero posts. All good red flags to look out for. The message read:
Hello <Accountname>, can you please send a message to @realaccount they want to collaborate with you! You will be getting free exclusive products as well as a featuring on their official page.
I always block these accounts and new accounts they may create.
Asking for Online Safety Advice
If a message or email looks a tad suspicious or too good to be true, then just ask a friend for their opinion. Recently I got a text message with an attached photo of a damaged package. I had to pay a small amount for it to be repackaged and forwarded to me. There was a link to pay the amount. Fortunately, my phone security software warned me not to trust it. I told my local post office worker about it and he agreed and said ‘Australia Post would never send you a message like that.’
It’s okay to ask someone else if you suspect an email or message is dodgy.