BBB warns aspiring influencers about phony social media sponsorships

Consumer Watch

RALEIGH, N.C. — Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina (BBB) is aspiring influencers about the possibility of scammers using social media sponsorships to steal money or sensitive information. 

“Any aspiring influencer or college athletes trying to take advantage of the recent NIL NCAA changes need to be aware of phony companies trying to con them,” said Mallory Wojciechowski, president, and CEO of BBB. “These scammers promise bogus perks in exchange for posting product pictures but these “brand ambassadors” just end up losing money.”

How the scam works:

A “company” contacts you through your Instagram, TikTok, or other social media account. The company representative wants to know if you would be interested in becoming a “brand ambassador.” It sounds like a great opportunity and an easy way to receive a favorite product at a discount or even for free. All you need to do is post photos of yourself using the product. In exchange, the company will give you a commission, send free products, and provide exposure for your social accounts.  

However, there’s a catch! According to BBB Scam Tracker, several victims from across the country have reported first having to buy items, anything from sunglasses to jewelry to cosmetics. According to reports, the items cost $50 or more and arrived broken or in some other unusable state. Other times, the scammer charged victims upfront for a “background check.” No matter how the scam works, the outcome was the same. Victims paid upfront and the promise of being paid a commission or exposure never materialized.

How to spot an influencer scam:

Do your research. Look up the company on BBB.org to see if it is a legitimate company. If something is a scam, victims are likely to have posted about it online. 

Ask questions. Targets of influencer cons told BBB Scam Tracker that when they asked for details, the scammer got evasive and stopped responding. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions that you may have. A legitimate company will not have any problem answering you. 

Stay cautious. Be very wary of any job that asks you to hand over money. Scammers will often use the guise of running a credit check, setting up direct deposit, or paying for training.

If you’ve been the victim of a social media scam, help others avoid falling victim by reporting what happened on the BBB Scam Tracker. For more information, visit BBB.org. 

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