A fake social media account populated with stock photography of food, beaches, legs looking like sausages and a blonde woman staring at foreign trees while thinking about if her phone's going to get a data connection here or not, has been racking up offers of free stuff despite being a known scam and its followers consisting mostly of bought-in bots.
Non-existent Instagram star "Wandering Girl" Amanda Smith's account was created by marketing agency Mediakix last year to illustrate the ease at which popular fake accounts can be built up. And despite being outed in the media last year too, the account's owners decided to try to blag a few freebies on the back of its 63,000 purchased followers this year – and boy did the publicity hungry hotels and food chains bite on that offer.
Wandering Girl's managers asked eight US hotels for freebies on the back of the account's seemingly guaranteed ability to drive people in. Four said yes, amazingly, failing to do even the most basic of Google groundwork, and offering free or discounted room rates by return. One hotel asked for "5-10 high-res images with non-exclusive usage rights" in exchange for a stay, with eight of the nine restaurants asked for a free seat at the social media trough also saying yes in return for guaranteed posts. [Buzzfeed via TNW]