In Depth

BallerBusters: the Instagram account exposing phoney entrepreneurs

The page is on the hunt for ‘FlexOffenders’ boasting of invented wealth

An Instagram account is winning fans worldwide by exposing fake entrepreneurs who boast of flashy lifestyles but don’t “act their wage”.

The account - @BallerBusters - uses receipts and crowdsourced information from followers to expose people who brag about their wealth but “don’t have the cash to back it up”, says The New York Times.

The identity of person behind the account is unknown, with the mystery “truth teller” claiming they want to remain anonymous in order to avoid being targeted by Instagram scammers.

Who is being exposing?

The account goes after “FlexOffenders” - social media users who present an aspirational lifestyle in order to sell things to their followers, such as paid mentorships or access to online classes on how to become wealthy.

Some wannabe “rich kids of Instagram” have posted pictures allegedly taken in their private jets that are actually snapped in  customised photo studios, according to Business Insider.

Another self-proclaimed millionaire who bragged of having bought an $8m (£6.2m) penthouse was exposed after “BallerBusters found photographs showing that the home was an Airbnb rental property”, says The New York Times.

“They’re flaunting private planes, fake watches, posing with all this stuff and creating a life for themselves on social media that’s not true,” the administrator behind BallerBusters told the newspaper.

The fake pictures often feature expensive cars, cash and women as props and alleged markers of success.

What’s the problem with faking wealth?

So-called Insta-scammers are “preying on kids who want to become entrepreneurs and offering mentorship services in exchange for thousands of dollars and not delivering on their promises”, Jason Wong, a 22-year-old genuine entrepreneur, told the NY Times.

Teenagers end up paying for bad advice in order to imitate young and apparently successful people who lie about their wealth and expertise.

How does BallerBusters work?

The mystery person behind the page says that their team does due diligence on any accounts they plan to expose. The investigators comb through legal filings and screen shots of messages, speak to people in the industries in which the scammers allegedly made their fortunes, and then audit suspected FlexOffenders’ social media profiles.

“We actually do investigative journalism,” the administrator said.

There are plans to turn the novelty page into an educational resource, with a new website offering information on how to avoid business and social media scams, and a platform for people to review mentorship programmes and courses in order to identify the rip-offs.

“I’m not all about the busts, I really want to teach people,” the BallerBusters boss told the NY Times. “I’d like to bring experts in each field and talk on Instagram live. I want an attorney to teach people how to file claims legally, how to get legal counsel and their rights.

“I want to bring a social media expert to talk about personal branding, someone who knows Facebook ads. I would love to put them on and teach people for free.”

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