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Instagram scam ads: how to protect your brand
Social Media
4 mins

Instagram scam ads: how to protect your brand

Table of Contents:

    Instagram is quickly becoming a popular place for many brands to feature their products and attract customers. With Instagram Shopping, brands can even sell their products right through Instagram. All shoppers have to do is swipe up on product photos and videos and they can make their transaction. It’s a great way for brands to reach Millennials, who make up over half of Instagram’s users, but it’s not all good. Despite Instagram’s efforts scam ads run continues to be a real problem for the site, and pose a risk to brands large and small. 

    Instagram scam ads prey on consumers and legitimate brands alike. Even brands who don’t have a business page on Instagram can be targeted in these fake ads. In this article, we will help you understand the risks of Instagram scam ads and help you protect your brand from this threat. 


    • Instagram ad scams are a threat to brand revenue and reputation 
    • Reporting Instagram scam ads is simple and necessary 
    • Why there must be a plan in place for brands to remove fake Instagram ads and bad actors’ fake websites 

    What are Instagram ad scams?

    Instagram ad scams are fake ads that typically lure shoppers in with insanely good deals on products. These fake ads often use stolen images and other IP from legitimate brands to appear more trustworthy. When consumers buy these counterfeit products, they typically receive a cheap knock-off, or sometimes never receive the product at all. 

    These Instagram ad scams prey on consumers’ desire to get the best deal on an item. Zoe Schiffer, a victim of multiple Instagram scam ads, says “the scam words by exploiting our own consumerism,” (The Verge). Shoppers see a great deal they can’t find anywhere else and are quick to make the purchase before they have time to notice anything suspicious. 

    Instagram ad scams: why scammers use them

    Why are Instagram scam ads so rampant on the site? First, because these fake ads are incredibly quick and easy to create. Scammers steal all the product photos and phrasing from legitimate brands and can have their fake ads up and running in a few minutes. 

    Scammers can easily rip off a legitimate brand’s authority using branding stolen directly from their site and social media. When a fake ad looks identical to a real one, it’s practically impossible for shoppers to realize they are getting fooled. Beyond monitoring and removing fake ads, there’s no way for brands to keep their photos and content from being stolen and used.

    Another reason Instagram scam ads are used is to drive traffic to fake websites. Instead of selling their products directly through Instagram, where it’s easier for legit brands to report them, they lead shoppers to their website. The site, like their ads, can feature stolen branding to further dupe consumers and trick them into making faulty transactions. 


    The impact of Instagram ad scams on businesses

    Instagram scam ads pose many threats to legitimate businesses. The most obvious of these is a loss of revenue. All the money spent on counterfeit products is money that could have gone to the brand selling the real product. 

    These scam ads on Instagram also create unfair competition for businesses. Counterfeit products feature low prices that real brands could never beat while making a profit. With shoppers looking for the best deals online, fake products will always be the winner and take away from real brands’ revenue. 

    Fake Instagram ads don’t just impact finances, though. They can have a large negative impact on brand reputation. It doesn’t matter that brands have nothing to do with these scams– they are still the face of the counterfeit products being sold. 

    When a consumer gets scammed on Instagram, it can be almost impossible to find the actual scammer again. More often than not, upset shoppers go back to the legitimate brand’s pages to complain and share their bad experiences. This can mean a rise in consumer complaints, getting reported for selling counterfeit goods, and more.

    Instagram scam ads have the power to not only lose brand money but lose the reputation and consumer trust they built. Sometimes, brands can come back from this, but it’s not easy. Once trust has been lost, especially when it comes to where consumers spend their money, it can be difficult to get back. 

    How to report scam ads on Instagram 

    The first key to reporting scam ads on Instagram is to actively scan for them. If you wait around for your customers to tell you there’s a problem, it’s likely already out of control. Monitoring ads on Instagram for your branding and trademarks will ensure you catch Instagram scam ads as soon as they arise. 

    If you do find a fake Instagram ad using your branding, take these steps to report the ad:

    Step One: Go to the profile of the scammer impersonating your brand and click the three dots (…) in the top right corner, near their username. 

    Step Two: Select “Report User” in the drop-down menu, then “Report Account,” then “It’s Pretending to be Someone Else.” 

    Step Three: You will be given the option to select who the account is attempting to impersonate. Choose the most fitting option available, which will most likely be “a business or organization.” 

    Step Four: Wait for Instagram to respond, which typically takes one to two days. Make sure to provide any other information as necessary, if Instagram requests it. Usually, this will be enough to get the account, and their fake ads, taken down. 

    Don’t have an Instagram account? This form will help you report the fake ad. If you need more information on how to take down a fake Instagram account, read our full guide


    Instagram scam ads pose a great threat to brand revenue and reputation. It’s important to monitor for these scammers and take the necessary steps to report and take them down as fast as possible. Controlling ad scams on Instagram can be exhausting for businesses when these scammers can keep coming back, but there is a solution. 

    Monitoring and taking down the fake websites that bad actors are promoting with their fake ads can address this problem at the source. Red Points’ website takedown software can help automatically find and remove spoofing sites that take advantage of your brand. 


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