Another day, another influencer scam. This time, the scammer is social media influencer Kayla Massa, known on Instagram as @Kayg0ldi.
The 22-year-old from New Jersey has approximately 300,000 followers on Instagram and 100,000 followers on her YouTube channel. Her Instagram is now private since news of the scam broke, but her YouTube remains up and available. She mostly posts goofy challenges and hair tutorials.
On February 13th, Massa was arrested after allegedly scamming her followers out of $1.5 million. According to the charges against her, she would advertise a way for her followers to make easy money in her Instagram stories, over backgrounds that were photos of cash. Then, the complaint alleges, she would try to convince the followers who took the bait to empty their bank accounts and provide their necessary debit card information. After that, she is accused of depositing very large fraudulent checks from real New Jersey businesses into the emptied accounts and withdraw the cash before either her bank or her followers realized anything was up.
Once her alleged victims finally figured out what had happened, Massa would have them blocked on social media. She allegedly used this scam repeatedly over the course of a year-and-a-half and showed off the spoils of her fraudulent adventures on social media. Massa posted pictures of expensive cars and designer clothes, all the while allegedly stealing thousands from followers and businesses.
Many of the followers she is accused of scamming were under 18.
Not the First Scammer
Massa is not the first to take advantage of her standing as a social media influencer to dupe unsuspecting followers, and she likely won’t be the last. The highly-publicized disaster that was Fyre Fest was, of course, the most famous influencer scam.
Not everything can be as movie-worthy as $1.5 million stolen or a music festival that’s more like a dystopian nightmare. There are other more subtle ways that followers are susceptible to influencer misdeeds.
Even when it’s not an overt scam, having too much trust in influencers can be damaging, to your health and your wallet. Influencers working for certain brands don’t always disclose when a post is an ad. This misleads followers and potentially get people to buy things they otherwise wouldn’t.
Social media influencers are also famous for advertising expensive diet, fitness and wellness products. These products might not actually do what they say they will, and could potentially be dangerous.
Influencers often advertise to their followers expensive crap they don’t actually use but will happily sell to you. The idea is to influence. That doesn’t actually mean influencers are pushing followers towards a product or idea that’s actually in their best interests.
The lesson here is to be aware of what you see. Take everything on social media with a grain of salt, and do your best to protect yourselves and your kids online.