What are these fake and copycat accounts, and how do we stop them?
Fake accounts are created for a number of reasons. They can be made by fans with non-malicious intent, or they can be made by seasoned online criminals, to exploit people’s appreciation of a musician. We have seen this situation get remarkably worse in the past 3 months, and this is our PSA blog post – send this to anyone you think might be vulnerable to internet scams to learn more about how to recognise the warning signs of a fake account and an internet scam.
Why do people create fake accounts?
One of the reasons people create fake celebrity social media accounts is to gain attention and followers. By impersonating notable individuals, they can attract a larger audience and potentially gain popularity or influence. Some individuals may also create fake accounts for malicious purposes, such as spreading misinformation or conducting scams. It is possible that an account may try to damage the brand of the real celebrity, but most of the time, it is for monetary gain through scams.
What are fan accounts?
Some people create fan accounts dedicated to a certain celebrity, and this is no different in the classical music world. These fan accounts are just dedicated to posting about a musician and are mostly clearly labelled as “fan accounts”, in their username, display name, or bio.
A musician is talking back to me. Are they fake?
Some musicians engage with their fans by responding to direct messages and comments. This isn’t unusual, so any response from the correct account (some platforms will clearly label the account with “author”, when they reply to your comment) isn’t necessarily a fake account. If you find it difficult to see the difference, try visiting the artist’s website to see if it links directly to their social media accounts.
[Social Media Platform Name] has messaged me, threatening to close my account! What do I do?
If it is a DM or through the messaging system of the social media platform, it is most likely going to be false. We see this mostly on META, where scammers pretend to be META/Facebook/Instagram and threaten to close your account with all your hours of social media work. Refer to Facebook’s Scam and Spam guide for a start, and DON’T fall for the threats which might add pressure or time-sensitivity – social media platforms do not close accounts suddenly and do not do this without the chance of being reinstated anyway. Take your time to ensure that a warning is legitimate by doing your research.
Click here for Facebook’s Scam and Spam Guide
How can I stay vigilant?
- Follower count
Does the account have the right amount of followers? If it is a new account, this might not necessarily be a fake, as we recently helped Concours de Genève winner, pianist Kevin Chen, set up his account and he had to start somewhere! But if there is an account claiming to be Yuja Wang, with 60 followers, trying to message you, it is likely to be a fake.
- Verified Badge
Now, this SHOULD be a great way to figure out if an account is fake, but we ourselves, sometimes struggle to achieve verification for even our most notable clients, especially as our verification blog back in May pointed out that META is now pushing people more towards verification via a monthly subscription cost.
You can check if someone is verified by tapping on their username, or hovering over their verified tick, which should show whether the account is verified or not.
Some fake accounts will use symbols in their account name, which can look very similar to a verification tick and some might use a blue verification badge as a profile picture.
- Asking for anything of value, such as money, giftcards or cryptocurrency
This is a dead giveaway. Any major artist would not be asking you for anything of value, or asking for any payment that is not done through a known transactional platform. Gift cards and cryptocurrency are the go-to for malicious fake accounts, as these types of payments are very difficult for law enforcement and authorities to trace once they are sent across to the scammer.
It is highly unlikely that an artist would be asking you directly for money through any means. They will, of course, be trying to sell you their recordings or concert tickets through social media posts and stories, not through direct messages.
Always stay vigilant online, and if an artist messages you directly and unprompted, take the necessary steps to verify whether they are who they say they are. We think this is an issue that might never be fixed completely and depends on awareness and education to curb the issue. Scammers will continue to do scams that work and so far, setting up fake accounts of musicians is unfortunately still working.