29.07 2019 14:11h

Fake Influencers Are Scamming Brands Out of Billions of Dollars

The situation doesn't seem to be improving any time soon
Fake Influencers, Influencer Fraud, Influencer Marketing, Fraud, Influencer marketing budget, Influencer marketing report, Fake influence

Planning on working with a particular influencer for your next influencer marketing campaign? You might want to double check the authenticity of their following.

Brands and marketers around the world may be wasting up to $1.3 billion on sponsored content, that might not be reaching their target audience at all – and it’s all due to fake influencers scamming companies out of their marketing budgets.   

In this new age of advertising, brands are expected to spend a total of $8.5 billion on influencer marketing by the end of the year. In 2020, that number is expected to rise up to $10 billion; however, due to “influencers” who falsely inflate their social media following, these brands are expected to lose $1.3 billion by the end of 2019 in the process.


Unfortunately, it’s easier than ever before to purchase followers, join an engagement/comments pod or cut corners when it comes to “growing” an audience on social media.

A report called "The Economic Cost of Bad Actors on the Internet" recently examined the impact that fake influencer marketing would actually have on the brand.

"We're seeing an almost institutionalized fraud industry within influencer marketing, with standard market rates for purchasing fake followers on leading platforms like Youtube, Instagram and Twitter ranging from $15-$50 per 1,000 followers,” Robert Cavazos, an economist from cybersecurity company Cheq (who conducted the report), said to Campaign Live. "Another thing we're seeing more of is automation, as more and more sophisticated tools are put forth to help fraudulently grow audiences.”

“There's no doubt, that without a clear strategy and suitable technological solutions to combat it, fake influencer marketing will continue to flourish, further eroding the public's trust in social media," Cavazos said.

What should brands and marketers do, in order to avoid influencer fraud?

If you're looking to allocate a chunk of your marketing budget to influencer marketing, it's best to work with professionals when sourcing content creators for campaigns.

"A third-party verification platform, like Captiv8, lets you assess potential creator partners for brand safety and ensure that they aren’t participating in fraudulent activity," Subramanian said.

"You can also request metrics and compare them to the benchmarks in this report. Either approach can be an important step to ensure effective campaign performance and optimal ROI."

Influencer agencies - like ITP Live, Live Unite and Influencer - also pride themselves on taking extensive measures when vetting the talent they onboard.

There are also a number of steps brands can take to spotting a fake follower on Instagram.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by Reem Makari


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