Over the past few weeks, our Instagram followers, as well as the editors of Cigar lover– identified several fake Instagram accounts masquerading as our magazine and trying to steal money and identities from cigar aficionados. It’s also happened to Cigars International (@cigarsinternational), the leading online cigar retailer.
Accounts work in a similar fashion, by following or sending direct messages to people who follow cigar accounts with names similar to a cigar company (@cigaraficionadoPrize for example). They can offer a prize or pretend they support Covid-19 efforts, and proceed with the request for personal information (bank account, social security numbers, etc.). If you refuse to give them this information, they will say that they are passing on to someone else, another potential victim.
William White, another cigar aficionado, informed us: “They sent me a message from an account saying they were related to your [Cigar Aficionado] account and told me I won a $ 1,000 gift card. They asked me if I was interested and then asked for my personal information in order to deposit the money electronically (the only way for them to do that). When I said no, they said, “Okay, we’ll move on to the next winner. “”
In order to protect you, we want to report any fake accounts that we and Cigars International have identified, as well as information that can help you avoid being scammed (or other fake accounts) in the future.
Do not respond to requests from the following accounts:
- @ cigarsinternationalcovid19
Cigar lover magazine has an Instagram account: @CigarAficionado (@cigaraficionado). There is a blue check mark after the name. The only other accounts directly affiliated with our post are @bigsmokemeetswhiskyfest, an account dedicated to our inaugural event scheduled for October 31, and @CAbigsmoke. Our parent company, Mr. Shanken Communications, also owns Wine Spectator and Whiskey Advocate publications, among others, but there is no other Instagram account that legitimately represents Cigar lover.
Here are some tips to avoid getting ripped off:
- Don’t follow accounts that claim to be offering prizes on their behalf.
- Look for the blue check mark next to our name.
- Check the number of subscribers. Our main page @cigaraficionado has over 200,000 subscribers and @cigarsinternational has almost 44,000 subscribers. Those with much less should stand out as scams.
- Alert us, as well as Instagram, of any other accounts you come across that claim to be affiliated Cigar lover. We can confirm that it is not us and help remove these accounts from Instagram.
Please feel free to send us a DM at @cigaraficionado with all the information you have regarding fake accounts so that we can put an end to these frauds together.