Ever since it was possible to cheat others, some have made good use of this possibility.
There are telephone scams, Facebook scams, catfishing, game scams, pyramid schemes, mail scams… I think you got the idea. Some people take the opportunity to cheat, or scam, others if they have the possibility.
It can be hard to figure out exactly what mails, phone calls, or messages are real when being on the internet, and as the internet has become more popular, so has online scams.
A thing that has risen with the use of internet is Instagram ambassador scams. This is perhaps the scam that I see and feel most often. If you do not know what it is: I envy you.
What is an Instagram ambassador scam?
Instagram ambassador scams are a popular way for either real or fake brands to get you to waste your time and money on them.
They often target influencers as these are the most excited to start working with a brand – which is understandable. Brand deals are a big, fat, foot in the door for new influencers that wants to rise to the top.
They will send you (and thousands more) a message on Instagram, mail, or sometimes even to your phone, to ask you to DM or mail them to become an ambassador for them.
Next they will offer you X thing and the only thing you will have to do is X (the things wary which is why I put in X)
After you take the bait they will wait. Often you will have to buy some of their things; either for “free” where you only pay the transportation (which is usually the actual price for the product), or at a discount. Nonetheless you agree to afterwards (when you get the product) advertise their products on your social media.
This results in free advertisement for them, and a new and “loyal” customer (that’s you). Some ambassador “deals” even requires you to buy a certain amount of clothes (for example) per month for you to stay an ambassador.
What signs should you look out for?
- Collaborations where you have to pay for anything. If they want to collaborate with you, they should not expect you to pay to promote their brand. If the brand is legit, it should either pay you or at the very least give you the product for free in exchange for you to promote them
- Messages asking you to DM them. If they really want something to do with you, they should ask you – not ask you, to ask them.
This especially counts if you get a comment on a picture to DM them because most companies will send you an actual e-mail (if you have one on your profile) to ask you to collaborate.
The comments are made by bots and not actual people who have something constructive to say. Nonetheless be cautious if they ask you to take contact to them.
- You don’t know who they are. Agreeing to work with a company you do not know is not the best idea from the get-go. If you think about agreeing, they should at least give you a free product to test before you even choose to work with them.
It is not super dangerous if you have never heard about them before since new brands form all the time.
Just make sure you actually like/know the products they sell before branding them – its bad manners to brand something you do not like.
- The message comes from another account than the brand page. Another red flag is if they comment from an account that is not the actual brand account. It could be a name following the brand name; nonetheless it is not the actual brand that is messaging you but most likely a bot. The reasons they use these other names are if the accounts get shut down a lot, then they need some accounts that are “okay” to get shut down – since they don’t want their main brand account to shut down.
- The language is way too friendly. If the message they sent you are filled with hearts, emojis, and way too friendly words like “hey beautiful/pretty/amazing” and so on it may be both uncomfortable, unprofessional, and sketchy.
- The delivery time is unreasonable long. Most brands by now have a shipping time that takes less than seven days. Depending on their situation – is the item sold out or are we in a pandemic – it may take longer, but usually not more than 14 days.
If they clearly state that their delivery time is more than three weeks (or even two), you should be wary.
- They have ads to make you become an ambassador. If they use their money to run ads asking people to become ambassadors, it should be a clear sign that their main source of income is their ambassadors and not actual customers. If an actual brand would like an ambassador or influencer collaboration, they will usually not ask in such a roundabout “everyone is welcome” kind of way. Real brands usually have an idea of what they are looking for and will then reach out in a more professional manner.
- Their brand page asks you to DM to collaborate with them. If the brand page asks people to DM to collaborate, it is quite easy to see what their main goal is. To get as many people as possible to fall into their traps, and not to actually brand themselves to real customers. This also counts if the brand page tells you to: become an ambassador, join their team, or DM to either collaborate or become an influencer/ambassador.
- The numbers do not add up. If you look at their page and they have way too many followers compared to how many (or few) interactions they have, something seems fishy. If we take colourpop cosmetics as an example, they have 10 million followers and one of their 11-hour old posts have 22 thousand likes.
A fake brand may have 5 million followers or 50.000 followers but only 6 likes which seem odd. It may be a sign that they bought the followers instead of earned them.
Unfortunately, I cannot just put a list up here to tell you: all these brands are scams! The brands change name, profile, close/open accounts, gets shut down, and can spam you from different accounts at the same time.
For me to put lots of Instagram “brands” up here will help nothing, as they might not be there tomorrow. Instead look for the signs and stay away if it seems sketchy.
I wish for you to never ever experience this, and if you do, keep in mind that not everything is as great as it seems.
I hope you all have a happy life, one day at a time!