January 10, 2020
The bushfires ravaging Australia have killed dozens of people, destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands of residents to evacuate. Millions of acres are burnt. More than a billion animals are feared dead. As the blaze spreads and these numbers continue to rise, opportunistic Instagram users are focused on other figures: dollars and likes.
Instagram Scammers Are Exploiting The Australia Fires For Cash And Clout
Popular Instagram profiles are exploiting the crisis for personal gain, making empty promises to plant trees or donate money in exchange for traffic with posts such as, “1 LIKE = $1 DONATION.” Some falsely claim to be affiliated with legitimate aid organisations. Others have promoted personal PayPal accounts, urging their tens or hundreds of thousands of followers to donate to them directly while vowing to give those funds to charity later on.
In identical posts, the Instagram accounts @thewildfund and @australiasafety, with 111,000 and 50,000 followers respectively, each committed to donating $1 per like to their “partner,” National Geographic. For every follow, the pages said they would give $5. @australiasafety also claimed that it had already given away $450,000, linking to a nonexistent website, australiasafety.org. Neither of the account owners responded to requests for comment.National Geographic told HuffPost that it is not affiliated with either of the pages, contrary to their claims. Yet the accounts still managed to accrue more than a million ‘likes’ and a surge of new followers in a matter of days — which could have earned them money.
Instagram removed both pages after being contacted by HuffPost. 
The speed and ease with which crisis grifters’ profiles go viral on Instagram underscore the billion-user platform’s function as a hotbed for scams. Despite its policies against deceptive activity, the Facebook-owned company regularly allows hoaxes to flourish without consequence. This lack of proactive enforcement emboldens bad actors rather than deterring them.
As a result, anonymous scammers are capitalising on people’s goodwill and feelings of powerlessness surrounding the devastation in Australia, said Nico, the 15-year-old creator of @exposinginstascams, which calls attention to fraud and other malfeasance on Instagram. 
At a time when people around the world are desperately searching for ways to save koalas, or aid refugees, or support firefighters as they watch Australia burn on their screens, crisis grifters are there to meet their demand. If their pages get shut down, it’s easy enough to start over.The speed and ease with which crisis grifters’ profiles go viral on Instagram underscore the platform’s function as a hotbed for scams.“It’s disgusting,” Nico said. “It’s way past the line to use a crisis for attention and clout.” 
The teen devotes much of his spare time to educating the public on how to recognise Instagram scams — a pervasive issue that he feels is best addressed by helping people stay informed. Hoaxers are constantly developing new ways to con people, he noted.
While many scammers exploit crises for quick cash, such as by soliciting direct donations, others employ a longer-term strategy: asking for likes, followers and reposts instead of money can lead to rapid account growth, in turn making the accounts more valuable. And after amassing large followings, crisis grifters can use a pivot-and-profit model by deleting their disaster-related posts and changing their usernames, then selling their pages or using them to attain paid brand deals.
That’s exactly what the 23,000-follower account formerly known as @trees4australia appears to be doing. After raking in traffic with a photoshopped picture of a moose on fire and a declaration that it would be “planting $1 for every [‘like’]” — whatever that means — it quietly switched its page to private-access only, deleted its posts and pivoted to an unrelated username.
It’s a tired scheme, but often an effective one — especially when scammers latch on to highly publicised tragedies. In September, as the Amazon rainforest burned at an unprecedented rate, HuffPost detailed how Instagram users were using the blaze to promote their own pages as well as fraudulent crowdfunding campaigns. In June, opportunistic Instagrammers vowed to deliver meals to starving children in crisis-torn Sudan for followers and likes, The Atlantic reported.
“We are investigating this scam and will remove accounts and content that promote it,” a Facebook company spokesperson told HuffPost.
Instagram has yet to remove all of the accounts HuffPost brought to its attention. @plantatreeco, which boasts 570,000 followers and counting, claims it will donate to charity in exchange for followers and reposts on Instagram. In expired Instagram Stories, it has also claimed it will plant a tree every time someone follows its TikTok, YouTube or Snapchat accounts. In its Instagram bio, it says it has planted more than 36,000 trees to date, yet in now-deleted Instagram Story Highlights, that number was 200,000.
Meanwhile, @plantatreeco is also aggressively urging people to visit its website, where it sells merchandise. There is no indication that any proceeds from the merchandise will go to charity. As Nico pointed out, @plantatreeco has done this multiple times before, then erased its Instagram content and started over. 
Elsewhere, the site has featured blog posts such as, “Here’s what you can do to help the burning, ravaged Amazon rainforest,” which is plagiarised word-for-word from a Business Insider article, yet credited to a Plant A Tree Co blogger named Zack. The blog post vanished after HuffPost contacted the account to inquire.
@plantatreeco has previously been identified as a scam but told HuffPost that its critics have acted in bad faith. It provided what appears to be a receipt for a donation to Australia’s NSW Rural Fire Service for $3,173.30 that was made within hours of HuffPost’s initial outreach. The NSW Rural Fire Service was not immediately able to confirm the authenticity of that donation.
@prayforstraya, a page with 30,000 followers, has also promised to donate money and plant trees in exchange for followers, comments and reposts on Instagram. In an Instagram Live on Thursday, the account owner cast his skeptics as “dickheads.”
When HuffPost contacted him to ask about his claim of donating $25,000 to the Red Cross (which he has previously admitted was a lie), he had two questions:
Would his Instagram get a shout-out in the story, and would he be paid for an interview?Related... Here’s How To Help Those Affected By The Australia Fires
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Lady A Teases iHeartCountry Festival & Explains Name Change | Daily Pop | E! News
October 23, 2020
vGwt2umznyM
Blake Lively Photoshops Her Shoes in Ryan Reynolds Pic | Daily Pop | E! News
October 23, 2020
bTw4DHCf-4U
Khloé Kardashian & Tristan Back Together: Details! | Daily Pop | E! News
October 23, 2020
kJK33H2Fn00
AT&T Reports Solid Third-Quarter Financial Results
October 22, 2020
6lRXJoeGtzo
'Rebecca' Cast Ensures Fans the Netflix Adaptation Won't Be a Hitchcock Remake
October 22, 2020
n7nAZXfaAVI
Jamie Lee Curtis & Neve Campbell Swap Horror Film Stunt Injury Stories
October 22, 2020
J2bMnpZjyiw
Best of TMZ on TV This Week: 10/19 - 10/23
October 23, 2020
w6FVKfRQaRY
Sen. Schumer Says Let Voters Wear Candidate Tees to Polls, Guns a 'Bad Idea'
October 22, 2020
acze3hftFEc
Neil deGrasse Tyson Says Slim Chance Asteroid Hits U.S. Before Election | TMZ
October 22, 2020
Awrgy3GeWt0
Ireland Baldwin poses topless on Instagram to get out the vote | Page Six Celebrity News
October 23, 2020
DDaZ7sStE9g
Ariana Grande flaunts ‘Positions’ in sexy White House video | Page Six Celebrity News
October 23, 2020
mHAFoj58EbA
Gene Simmons kisses longtime LA home goodbye | Page Six Celebrity News
October 23, 2020
xB88qKuvU2k
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
23
Oct
ENGLAND: Championship
Nottingham Forest - Derby County
23
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Aston Villa - Leeds
23
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
Sassuolo - Torino
23
Oct
SPAIN: La Liga
Elche - Valencia
21
Oct
ENGLAND: Championship
QPR - Preston NE
21
Oct
ENGLAND: Championship
Watford - Blackburn
21
Oct
ENGLAND: Championship
Cardiff City - Bournemouth
21
Oct
ENGLAND: Championship
Sheffield Wednesday - Brentford
21
Oct
ENGLAND: Championship
Stoke City - Barnsley
20
Oct
ENGLAND: Championship
Norwich City - Birmingham
20
Oct
ENGLAND: Championship
Coventry - Swansea City
20
Oct
ENGLAND: Championship
Nottingham Forest - Rotherham
20
Oct
ENGLAND: Championship
Millwall - Luton
20
Oct
ENGLAND: Championship
Huddersfield - Derby County
20
Oct
ENGLAND: Championship
Reading - Wycombe Wanderers
20
Oct
ENGLAND: Championship
Bristol City - Middlesbrough
19
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leeds - Wolves
19
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Bromwich Albion - Burnley
19
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
Verona - Genoa
18
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
Roma - Benevento
18
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - West Ham United
18
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Aston Villa
18
Oct
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Betis - Real Sociedad
18
Oct
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Koln - Eintracht Frankfurt
18
Oct
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Schalke - Union Berlin
18
Oct
SPAIN: La Liga
Alaves - Elche
18
Oct
SPAIN: La Liga
Huesca - Real Valladolid
18
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
Udinese - Parma
18
Oct
SPAIN: La Liga
Villarreal - Valencia
17
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Arsenal
17
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
Inter Milan - AC Milan
17
Oct
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Arminia Bielefeld - Bayern Munich
17
Oct
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Hoffenheim - Borussia Dortmund
17
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Southampton
17
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Newcastle United - Manchester United
17
Oct
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Barcelona
17
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
Crotone - Juventus
17
Oct
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Madrid - Cadiz
17
Oct
SPAIN: La Liga
Celta Vigo - Atletico Madrid
17
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Atalanta
17
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Liverpool
15
Oct
GERMANY: National cup
Duren Merzenich - Bayern Munich
13
Oct
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Germany - Switzerland
10
Oct
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Ukraine - Germany
04
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Tottenham Hotspur
04
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Sheffield United
04
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Aston Villa - Liverpool
04
Oct
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayern Munich - Hertha Berlin
04
Oct
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Sevilla
04
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Spezia
04
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - Inter Milan
04
Oct
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Real Madrid
03
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
Udinese - Roma
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.