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Influencers, celebrities and other people with strong online followings can be, well, influential. When considering whether you want to buy something or use a service – especially when you’re buying online – you might look at a person’s or company’s social media. A bigger following might mean something to you, maybe telling you something about their legitimacy or how good their product or service is.

A company called Devumi knew that and sold fake followers to help people and organizations gain strong “followings.” The FTC has reached a settlement with Devumi for its illegal actions that deceived consumers.

So how did Devumi work? It operated several websites, including,,, and People could go to these pages and buy fake followers, subscribers, views and likes for their social media accounts. That included accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Vine and SoundCloud.

So how can you be sure that the person or company you’re interested in has real followers? Truth is, you can’t be sure.

So, as you’re shopping online, go beyond the number of followers and likes. Check out independent reviews of the product or service. Of course, those can be faked, too, so read a bunch of reviews to see what you can figure out. Also, search online for the name of the product or service, plus the word “complaint.” Looking for more tips about shopping online? Check out Comparing Products Online.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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October 22, 2019
Have a healthy skepticism!
October 22, 2019
In general, fake positive reviews tend to be more elaborate than genuine reviews. I tend to read the negative reviews since those give an idea of what may go wrong with the product or service. As the article stated, checking other sources is also a good idea.
October 25, 2019

In reply to by Cynic

I tend to do the same thing because negative reviews will usually have the same complaint so it's pretty certain that a particular problem will exist if you buy the product.
October 25, 2019

In reply to by Cynic

Negative remarks are just as phony as positive ones ! They are BOTH used to influence people, either to buy a product or to make false accusations.
October 25, 2019
Thank you FTC . Your articles and free info has changed my life. I help elderly and not WEB knowledge families with what Ive learned through my own ID theft. Knowledge is power. I recently downloaded a speach from EISENHOWER on the commentment the COMMISSION was wanting to provide for consumers. WORD IS BOND! !
make sense
October 23, 2019
What do you mean FTC reached a settlement? Maybe, just maybe, try revoking licenses to do business and publicize the fact that they are no longer allowed to do business. A fine means nothing
FTC Staff
October 23, 2019

In reply to by make sense

This blog includes a link to the FTC's public Press Release that describes the proposed settlement.

Click on the words " The FTC has reached a settlement with Devumi " to learn that the proposed order settling the FTC's charges bans the Devumi defendants from selling or assisting others in selling social media influence to users of third-party social media platforms. The order also prohibits the defendants from making misrepresentations, or assisting others in doing so, about the social media influence of any person or entity or in any review or endorsement of any person, entity, product, or service.

curtis steinhour
October 25, 2019

In reply to by make sense

I totally agree. If they have no license then they can't do business and if they do then it would be some jail time.
Don T. Hun
October 24, 2019
Excellent advice and the site links to other suggestions as well. I am relieved that the FTC does so well in assisting consumers. Thank you.
October 26, 2019
While I do shop online, I never connect to a website through social media or to any website without "https" in their link. For every valid website, there are many imposters. I would rather take the time to do my research than become a victim of fraud.
Nevada Consumer
October 28, 2019
This article extremely helpful, I had no past clue.
October 29, 2019
I just figure that most reviues are fake.
October 31, 2019
Some people have reported getting emails from the FTC regarding this settlement. The email states that they have been identified as having purchased followers from this company (though of course, these people usually deny having made any such purchases, or claim they made the purchases on someone else's behalf), and instructs them to delete these followers from their social media platforms, or face a lawsuit from the FTC. Are these emails actually from the FTC? The general perception so far is that the emails are another scam and should be ignored. If that's the case, should they be reported to anyone?
FTC Staff
November 08, 2019

In reply to by ZuZu

Thank you for your questions. Yes, the emails regarding Devumi are actually from the FTC. We sent them to email addresses associated with past Devumi customers. The emails ask the recipients to delete any fake followers and warn them not to purchase followers in the future.

November 06, 2019
Is anything being done to individuals who bought from Devumi? Like is the FTC going after individuals who bought small amounts of followers (2000 or less) who really didn’t make any money or see any real gain? I don’t really think that would be fair
Done-mailmaxx …
November 28, 2019
I really was told this I did receive a phone call to me she said I wasissuetd a thousand dollar. Gift card. She also said it would best spent at Walmart. Is this true or fraud Thanks for young time