FTC Fines Florida Businessman for Selling Fake Followers to Influencers
The Federal Trade Commission on Monday fined a Florida businessman for selling fake social media followers as part of its first-ever lawsuit involving “the sale of fake indicators of social media influence,” The Financial Times reports. German Calas Jr. was reportedly fined $2.5 million for running a company called Devumi, which sold fake Twitter and LinkedIn followers along with fake YouTube views. The now-defunct company allegedly sold the fake metrics to partners at law firms, musicians, banks, and public relations firms. The FTC said Calas Jr.’s full fine would be suspended if he paid $250,000, but could be later imposed if it was found that he had “misrepresented his financial condition” to officials. “Buying and selling fake followers is illegal. It undermines the marketplace, and the FTC will not tolerate it,” Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection, said.