The Instagram Brand Ambassador Scam Exposed – Just Pay For Shipping Huh?

Born & raised in England, Dale is the founder of Living More Working Less & he has been making a living from his laptop ever since leaving his job as an electrician back in 2012. Now he shares what he's learned to help others do the same... [read more]

If you have an Instagram account with any sort of reasonable size follower base then the chances are that you’ve been approached by various people whether through direct message or comments asking you to work with them as one of their brand ambassadors…

Instagram Brand Ambassador ScamAnd at first glance, it may seem like a great opportunity – especially when the offers appear to be from big companies like Wayward Wristwatches & even more so when they promise in their messages that you can actually keep the products after you post the pictures of them.

But I’ve got some bad news, because whilst there are indeed many legitimate brand ambassador opportunities sadly at the moment there’s a huge influx of brand ambassador scams on Instagram, nicknamed the “Instagram pay for shipping scam”.

On the flip-side, I’ve also got some good news for you, which is that if you keep reading this post I’ll show you how to tell a REAL Instagram brand ambassador offer from a phoney (and on top of that I’ll also explain exactly how the scam works along with how to get your money back if you’ve already been caught out). πŸ™‚

The Instagram Brand Ambassador Scam ExplainedΒ Β  |Β Β  How To Tell If a Brand Ambassador Opportunity Is Real Β  |Β Β  A Better Way To Make Money From InstagramΒ Β  |Β Β  How To Get Your Money BackΒ Β  |Β Β  The Bottom Line

What Is The Instagram Brand Ambassador Scam?

In short, the Instagram brand ambassador scam is not actually a new scam, it’s a scam that’s been around for many years but it’s merely taken a new form in the hope of catching more people out… And sadly it seems to be working!

The scam behind it, known as the pay for shipping scam basically just preys on its victim’s excitement and/or desperation.

You see the scammer (aka the person offering you the brand ambassadorship opportunity) will come at you with some sort of seemingly amazing offer, just like the one pictured below offering the opportunity to get free Wayward Wristwatches:

Instagram Wayward Wristwatches Scam Message

Sounds good right? You get sent the watches (which on average tend to cost around $80 apiece) & all you need to do is take some photos of yourself wearing them, then tagging the brand when you post them on your Instagram.

If you do that, then they’ll let you keep the watches as payment… So that’s 5 watches which equates to around $400… Not bad huh?

BUT… There’s a catch…

If you follow up on their initial message then they’ll continue to hype up the potential opportunity, telling you how great the watches are & how much they’re worth… But they’ll also mention that in order to get the watches you’ll need to cover the shipping.

Being that they’re only watches the shipping fee will only be around $5 to $10 or maybe up to $20 at a push – and this is exactly where the con lies.

Even though that deep down you likely know there’s something dodgy going on they’re merely hoping that their offer sounds so good that you’ll just be “tempted” into paying the seemingly small amount of cash to see if it’s actually legit (which I can 100% confirm it isn’t).

So you’ll end up losing $20 or so as a result… But they’re doing this to literally thousands of different people every single day – so the guys behind these brand ambassador scams are earning thousands of dollars every day from their unsuspecting victims.

Which is why I want you to take a moment right here & now to share this post with any of your friends. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, wherever you can & make as many people aware of this scam as possible.

And after you’ve done that come back here because I want to talk about…

How To Tell a Real Instagram Brand Ambassador Opportunity From a Fake One

It’s true, there are many legit companies seeking brand ambassadors on Instagram & there are also many companies/people willing to pay people big money to have their brands promoted on the platform…

But how do you spot a legit Instagram brand ambassador opportunity from a fake one?

To be honest, the answer is pretty simple and there are 2 rules that you should go by… The first one is the good old “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is“… And the second one is that you should NEVER have to pay anything upfront.

If a person or company is telling you that you need to pay anything upfront to get on board with their brand ambassadorship opportunity (no matter what the excuse is) then it is likely a fraudster trying to scam you.

So if that’s the case then you should take a closer look into the account that’s offering you the opportunity…

  • Is it the official account of the brand?
  • Does the account look new?
  • Is the account following a suspiciously large amount of people?

No doubt it will be when you take a closer look into the account that you come to realize it is definitely not real – but even then it can be hard to tell the difference as some of the fraudsters’ accounts can be pretty convincing.

As an example, Nike has a lot of different official Instagram pages for their brand – such as @nike, @nikesportswear, @nikelondon, @nikefootball etc…

And many of the scammers often take advantage of this by creating their own, such as @nikegiveaways (just a fictitious name I’ve used as an example) – through which they promise to give away free goods to anybody who shares the profile on their own page.

Sadly though this is just a trick that the scammers use to build a big follower base in a short amount of time, and then once they’ve gained that follower base they then move on to pushing these brand ambassadors pay for shipping scams.

So even if the account appears to look legit you should fall back to the 2 golden rules that I mentioned earlier:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  • You should NEVER have to pay anything upfront

But There’s a Better Way To Make Money From An Instagram Account Anyway…

There are certainly plenty of people that do make really good money from brand ambassador deals on Instagram deals that’s for sure – but if they knew what I’m about to share with you then they’d likely be making a LOT more…

You see the problem with most brand ambassador deals is that they just offer one-time payments… So it’s a case of “post this & we’ll pay you this” – then once you’ve posted it, it’s job done, then they simply move onto looking for other influencers to get them to do the same.

That’s no good for you though because although you’ll have had a one-time payment, once that’s paid you’re not going to be getting any more money unless you actively seek other brands to pay you again.

Recurring income or pay per sale income sounds much better right? Well, that’s exactly what you can get through affiliate marketing.

And by introducing recurring income or pay per sale income you’ll be able to leverage your efforts & massively scale up your income – which is pretty much the same way I managed to build an income of around $10,000 per month.

And just in case you don’t know what affiliate marketing actually is, it’s basically where you promote 3rd party products or services in return for commissions.

So, for example, the likes of Amazon have an affiliate program which you can sign up to – and if you do then you get a unique link to their products which you can share… Then as per the image below, if somebody clicks that link & makes a purchase, you get paid.

Affiliate Marketing Explained

Affiliate marketing is a truly great way to make money in general but it’s without a doubt one of the best ways to make money from Instagram. Plus if you’d like to get started with it & learn more you can do so for free over at Wealthy Affiliate (which I highly recommend).

So yeah, if you do have a relatively large follower base on Instagram (or know how to get one) then affiliate marketing is definitely something you should look into as if done properly it’ll definitely take your income to new heights.

How To Get Your Money Back From The Pay For Shipping Scam

Now it’s time to discuss how you can go about getting your money back if you’ve already fallen victim to the brand ambassador scam.

Because if you have lost money then I’m pretty darn sure you will want it back!

However, sadly this is where I’m potentially going to be the bearer of bad news, because how you can get it back (and your chances of actually successfully getting it back) depend on how you made the payment in the first place.

If you made it via a bank transfer then sorry, but your chances of getting it back are pretty darn slim. I’d definitely recommend contacting your bank & seeing if there’s anything they can do, but often most bank transfers are final & there is very little protection surrounding them.

The same goes with Bitcoin – if you paid with Bitcoin (or any other cryptocurrency) then sorry, but the money’s probably as good as gone.

If however, you made the payment by other means through a 3rd party merchant such as PayPal then you may be in luck – because you have an intermediary you can contact that often has the power to reverse the funds.

PayPal are excellent at this, so if you paid with them you’ll likely have a strong fighting chance of getting your money back… Just log on in, find the transaction & click the dispute button.

But when you do open your dispute though it’s vital that you provide as much information as possible.

All too often I hear stories of people leaving sentences like “been scammed, need money back” in their dispute comments & whilst it may be the truth, it’s not going to really do much for your case.

So be sure to write exactly what happened, what you thought you were going to get & the important bit, which is what you actually got.

The Bottom Line

I strongly hope that my post here exposing the Instagram brand ambassador scam has given you a good insight into how it all works & more importantly I hope it has helped you to avoid falling victim to it.

What I will point out though is that like I said at the start of this post the “just pay for shipping” scam, in general, is not a new scam & the Instagram version of it is merely it’s latest form, so you should still stay vigilant elsewhere (and apply the golden rules I mentioned earlier in this post to any opportunity you come across online).

Some other known pay for shipping/processing fee scams I’ve already exposed that you should watch out for include the Legit Flex Job Academy & Envelope Work programs. Steer clear of those if you happen to come across them.

But to summarize, hopefully, the information I have put here on this page has been useful & hopefully it’s also given you a good insight into how you can legitimately make good money from Instagram too.

Now if of course you still happen to have any further questions or comments then don’t hesitate to leave them below & as always I’ll do my best to respond back to you as quickly as I can. P.S. I’d also really appreciate it if you could please share this post in as many places as you can to prevent others falling victim to this brand ambassador scam too! πŸ™‚

About the Author:
Born & raised in England, Dale is the founder of Living More Working Less & he has been making a living from his laptop ever since leaving his job as an electrician back in 2012. Now he shares what he's learned to help others do the same... [read more]
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66 thoughts on “The Instagram Brand Ambassador Scam Exposed – Just Pay For Shipping Huh?”

  1. So I came across an Instagram story searching for ambassadors for action cameras (Dylo cam) and you had to write down why you’d be a good ambassador. So I did it and got an email a while after saying I’ve been chosen and all I had to do was to order up to 3 free action cameras but it said I had to pay shipping. All I have to do is post pictures… I’m really not sure if this is real or not.

    Reply
    • Hello Isaac – firstly I’d like to apologise for taking a little while to get back to you. Secondly I would like to stress that what you have mentioned sounds extremely suspicious, and I do personally suspect it to be a scam. There should be NO reason for a company who wishes for you to promote for them to ever ask you for money. They should cover all of the costs involved and if they do not then you should simply ignore it & move on.

      Reply
      • I got the same thing but… all they said was you have been chosen for the ambassador program and use this code to get your free camera still dylocam though

        Reply
        • Yeah I was speaking to a guy who got actually conned with the watch ambassador scam – same thing, they gave him a “code” to enter on the checkout page of their website. When he entered the code it removed the price of the watches but left the shipping fee… Naturally he thought he was getting a good deal & the website was setup to make it all seem legit, but it wasn’t… And he sadly got conned out of the money for shipping – no watches ever turned up. He later found out it was all fake.

          Reply
    • Yeah… I’m not big or anything like that on social media.. I only have about 335 followers… but I’m a Christian, and i love fashion, and makeup.. so I started a fashion blog. All last week I got hit up about becoming an ambassador from at least 8 different companies.. and because I didn’t no any better I paid a lot for shipping… I knew something wasn’t right in spirit about it for the best couple of days so I reached out to my friend on Instagram.. and sure enough she let me know that she gets hit up with those type of messages all of the time, and I should never pay for anything. There supposed to be paying for you. I feel so dumb and used but I learned my lesson. And even if these ,”products,” do come to my house I will use them if I need them but I will not be promoting them after I no what I no now… smh. God bless you man, Jesus loves you I don’t no if you are a believer or not.. hopefully you are.. and keep on making people aware of tis craziness…

      Reply
  2. This saved me from being Conned By the Activ Cam (Dylo cam) ambassador thing thanks!. Sorry you had to lose out Kelli but you have saved many others.

    Reply
    • I did the Activ Cam one as well… Fortunately it seemed too good to be true and wasteful for a brand to give out 3 cameras worth “1200$” for free to someone that has 378 followers on Instagram. I didn’t think I was going to get accepted, when I actually was I was like “This has to be not true” (actually I searched those cameras and they were like 19$ on Amazon, the same exact model).
      Second red flag was that there was no PayPal option so I got scared of Credit card fraude or this thing not to be true so it was PayPal or nothing.
      Be careful at the red flags.

      Reply
        • I’m in a situation where I became an ambassador for a small company. Now they are legit that I know of but, after I got accepted I was told that I needed to buy the products and would only get 10% off them. Now I’m not THAT into the products that I would pay and then pay for shipping on top of that so now I’m wondering how do I get out of it? I want to know a professional way out of an ambassadorship? Thank you!

          Reply
          • Honestly, by asking you to purchase the products they are being unproffesional, so don’t worry about being professional. Just tell them that you’ve decided to pass up on the opportunity, you don’t need to saying anything else.

  3. Damn. I have parents who work hard so I can get quality education. I put up my best but really like social media. Made it to 10k on Instagram and then I got this activcam message thing. Decided to make research as usual and I found this. I’m really greatful. Almost gave out my dad’s credit card number. I was this close to making that mistake. Thanks again

    Reply
  4. You’re a life saver man! i was just about to give my card details..then i had a thought ….checked on google if its a scam and read this . Thanks buddy.

    Reply
  5. I got acepted to be an ambassador….
    I filled the form for be ambassador but when they acepted me i was really surprised becauce i have just 1300 followers on instagram, anyway i wanted to order it but when i saw i have to pay shiping i thought straight away thats fake.
    But anyway i was thinking about that one week and now i found this website so thank you !!! πŸ™‚

    Reply
  6. Anyone knows if equinoxplay speaker is legit or fake. Their Instagram looks quite established and they have reviews on it. They have been around since 2017 so not really new. Please help

    Reply
    • There’s ONE question you need to ask – are they asking you to pay money upfront? Whether that be for products, shipping, whatever… If they are asking for money upfront DO NOT proceed. You should never have to pay anything upfront to participate as an ambassador.

      Reply
  7. Sanflairofficial also is a scam. They make you pay shipping first. 20usd and it’s already a lifetime offer blah blah blah, you just have to post etc. Exactly how you described it in this article.

    Reply
  8. “equinoxplay” is currently promoting an ambassador scam via Snapchat influencers. I didn’t get scammed myself but it seemed too good to be true.

    Reply
  9. Hi there, I just got approached by a Instagram page called “recruiting ambassadors” asking me to be a ambassador for another page called “palmpe” also asking me to cover the shipping fees for jewelry and upon googling their name I came across this article, so thank you so much cause I’m pretty sure now that they are a scam! You really saved me here!

    Reply
  10. Same thing with daniel philip watch (shipping fee), good thing is just almost 20 usd and Ive learned my lesson. But what about yukio hishika? Do you have any idea if they are a scam or not? Heres what they told me and after reading this Im definitely having my doubts, thabks anyway.
    ——————-
    Great!πŸ”₯

    We require all our Ambassadors to have at least 1 product of Yukio Hishikaβ„’ brand in their dressing-room, bought either in our retail store or online.

    If you already have a product, please, can you send us a picture of it with your name written on a paper and the product clearly visible?

    If you don’t, don’t worry, we have other solutions!

    Just click on the link on our bio and use the code above to get the 50% discount & FREE SHIPPING. Then get back to me with your order number so that I can get you onboard. 😊😊

    I’ll be waiting for you with your order number so that I could get you onboard to our ambassador program.

    I can’t wait to welcome you to our team! πŸ™‚πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • A true ambassadorship deal should NEVER require the ambassador to make a purchase (discounted or not). The above message is simply a trick to get you to become a customer & you should not fall for it. In a true deal, the company would cover the entire cost of the item & shipping – and for safety, you should NEVER have an item shipped directly to your home address. Always use a delivery locker, or similar to receive the package.

      Reply
    • I believe I was just scammed by Daniel Philip Watch as well. When I started thinking it was a scam I googled and came across this page. Wish I would have seen this first. At least I only lost $17 in shipping.

      Reply
  11. Hi I have been scammed by a company called Nova Luna, they said I had to pay shipping and I’d get 5 free products, which had I bought them outright it would have cost about Β£1200! However I didn’t realise that I was going to get conned Β£50 only to recieve 3 out of the 5 products I’d ordered, all of which were cheaply made items from Aliexpress, one of the products was broken and I wasn’t even able to return it! Watch out for these scams!!

    Also I have recently received this message on Instagram, just wanted to check this was fake:
    __________________________
    Hi! πŸ‘‹

    I’m a Brand Manager of Bonali, a women’s fashion jewelries. We are currently looking for Brand Ambassadors who are willing to represent our brand name, Bonali. I came across your profile and I saw you’ve got this charisma of a model potential which I also found you perfect to wear our products. We’ll be giving you 3 free jewelries of your choice. Here is our website *link removed* and have a look of some of our ambassadors collection.

    Hit me up for the details so you can get to know more.

    Here’s our exciting offers, so joining the ambassador team at Bonali is probably one of the COOLEST OPPORTUNITY OUT THERE!!

    βœ” You will get a chance to pick three (3) items from our Ambassador Collection for FREE!
    βœ” We will give you a custom unique code worth 60% off that you put can on your bio that you can share with your friends and you can win freebies.
    βœ” We will also help you in growing your followers on Instagram by simply featuring you to our stories and posts on our main page @bonali.official
    βœ” We will also be doing monthly activities and loyalty programs to reward our loyal customers and give out coupons, gift cards which you can also giveaway to your followers
    βœ” On top of it, Top Ambassadors will be given a chance for an all expense paid Travel to Bora Bora, Hawaii, Palawan, Maldives and Santorini

    Note: I will be giving you a discount code to avail our products 100% FREE. All you need to pay is the shipping fee

    Sounds good to you?πŸ™‚
    _________________
    They have also said that its a one time payment then everything after that every month is free. Is this legit?

    Reply
    • Come on Charlotte, you’ve already been scammed once – it’s time to screw your head on… Of course the message you received is a scam. As I outlined VERY clearly in my post above, you should never have to pay anything – the company should always cover ALL costs. I am sorry to have to be abrupt, but this is important for you to learn otherwise you will just end up getting scammed again.

      Reply
  12. How about this ?

    We will give you our limited edition $125 watch for in 100% discount and in exchange we only ask you to send us a photo with you and your watch as soon as it arrives and also cover the small shipping fee will that be okay with you? It’s because we partnered with World Vision and Compassion International. 80% of the fee will go to these charitable institutions to help the children in need. You can see it in our Company details in the website and also on the bio of @danielphilipwatch. Aside from promoting our brand, we are also doing our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as to helping to fund these charitable institutions.

    Reply
    • What about it? Did you not read my article above? I don’t know how I could make it any clearer than by saying you should NEVER have to pay anything.

      Reply
  13. I have received a lot of messages/comments on ig about being a random brand ambassador, but I have stalked many profiles and it looks fake. However, a while ago I received an email instead of an Instagram direct message, it was quite professional when the person managed to found my email and ask me directly. After reading this, I felt like you could be right. The person asked me to be part of their brand ambassador. Stalked their ig, with many followers and different people featured in. Except, I have to only pay for the shipping fee and earn some percentage if someone buys the stuff using my code. I’ve never been a brand ambassador before, so I wasn’t sure the whole email me personally can be trusted or not. And it’s too good to be true anyway. Thanks!

    Reply
  14. I was contacted by a company on Instagram and I thought it was too good to be true and ignored by own red flags. I continued with the program for 2 days and quickly backed out. I paid under $100 dollars and am content with taking the loss over continuing with the program. I was naive in believing that I could actually make money. This article helped me to get out of it and from losing more money. I continued with the program because I couldn’t find very much information on this issue. I think this article needs to be shared more and seen by more people because it is so hard to find helpful information. This issue needs to be addressed and I want to thank you for writing this article. It helped me to get out of the situation quickly, without losing that much money. Thank you!

    Reply
  15. I was skeptical about these “offers”, as I hadn’t been on Instagram all year. Thought it sounded to good to be true. Thought the shipping was too high. I’m glad I found your article to confirm my suspicions.

    Reply
  16. Hi, I was scammed by Palmpe. I was messaged by them to put in 3 orders. They wanted me to put in THREE orders (25$ shipping) rather than 1 order with just the shipping. They said I would get $300 right after the order via PayPal. However, I haven’t received the Paypal and they stopped responding. Do you know if going to my bank to dispute the charge would work? They made me order THREE times (pay shipping THREE times and kept waiting.)

    Reply
    • It depends on how you paid, Esther. If you paid via direct bank transfer then the chances are you will not be covered by any protection. Either way, the easiest way to find out is to simply contact your bank & ask them.

      Reply

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