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Fake Social “Likes” Facing Fines

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Fake Social "Likes" Facing Fines
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Company allegedly selling fake social indicators such as Facebook likes or YouTube views facing huge FTC judgement

As the FTC toughens it’s stance on deceptive digital marketing practices, Devumi is facing a $2.5 million judgement for selling likes on social media platforms.

According to the FTC’s complaint, now-defunct Devumi, and its owner and CEO, German Calas, Jr., used their websites Devumi.com, TwitterBoost.co, Buyview.co, and Buyplans.co to sell fake indicators of social media influence, including fake followers, subscribers, views, and likes to users of social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Vine, and SoundCloud.

The FTC alleges the defendants sold fake Twitter followers to actors, athletes, musicians, writers, and others who wanted to increase their appeal as online influencers. The FTC alleges that Devumi also sold fake Twitter followers to motivational speakers, law firm partners, investment professionals, and others who wanted to boost their credibility to potential clients.

According to the FTC, Devumi filled more than 58,000 orders for fake Twitter followers, enabling the buyers to deceive potential clients about their social media influence.

Devumi also allegedly had more than 4,000 sales of fake YouTube subscribers and over 32,000 sales of fake YouTube views to its clients, including musicians who wanted to increase the apparent popularity of their songs.

The FTC contends that the defendants thereby enabled their customers to deceive both potential viewers and potential music purchasers.

In addition, according to the complaint, the Devumi defendants sold more than 800 fake LinkedIn followers to marketing, advertising, and public relations firms; companies offering computer software solutions; banking, investment, and other financial services firms; human resources firms; and others.

These fake followers, the complaint alleges, enabled the buyers to deceive potential clients, investors, partners, and employees.

By selling and distributing fake indicators of social media influence to users of various social media platforms, the FTC alleges the defendants provided their customers with the means and instrumentalities to commit deceptive acts or practices, which is itself a deceptive act or practice in violation of the FTC Act.

The proposed court order settling the FTC’s charges contains both conduct and monetary provisions. First, it 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.

Finally, the order imposes a monetary judgment against German Calas, Jr. of $2.5 million, the amount that the FTC alleges he was paid by Devumi or its parent company. The order specifies that upon payment of $250,000, the remainder of the judgment will be suspended. If Mr. Calas is later found to have misrepresented his financial condition to the FTC, the entire judgment immediately will become due.

You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint with the FTC online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).

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