Crypto entrepreneur accused of masterminding a million-dollar verification hustle on Instagram
According to a ProPublica report published Wednesday, Shamoun likely made millions from clients who paid him to obtain verifications on Instagram, in violation of Meta’s policies. Meta, Instagram’s parent company, prohibits users from selling account verifications or misrepresenting themselves to get verified.
Shamoun, who also claims to be a Miami-based DJ, founded FanVerse in July, along with Mike Vazquez, who appeared on the MTV reality show Siesta Key, according to a July 7 statement announcing the company’s launch.
The company, according to the statement, is backed by several celebrities and influencers and was billed as “Web3’s preeminent destination for all luxury and travel-related NFT drops.” Its Twitter account is verified but has fewer than 5,000 followers.
In addition to his NFT business, Shamoun, with the help of business partner and Instagram creator Adam Quinn, allegedly sold verifications to several people including a jeweler, a surgeon, and an OnlyFans creator in exchange for thousands of dollars. Both Quinn and Shamoun are now banned from all Meta platforms.
Meta and Shamoun didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Fortune. Quinn could not be reached for comment.
The scheme, according to ProPublica, revolved around making clients look like musicians, complete with streaming accounts and planted articles. Shamoun and his team allegedly would tell clients to create a fake persona, complete with posts in designer clothing and in recording studios, and then would upload lackluster electronic beats or dead noise on Spotify and Apple Music with fake streams to appear legitimate.
With the help of paid articles, some tweaks emphasizing fake music careers on clients’ instagrams, and a lift from Google, Shamoun allegedly helped hundreds of clients get verified on Instagram.
Quinn acknowledged that he sold account verifications in partnership with Shamoun but denied submitting fake musician accounts to Instagram, according to ProPublica. Shamoun denied being involved in the scheme to sell account verifications.
“People know who I am and my character and what I do for business, and it has nothing to do with Facebook or Instagram,” he told ProPublica, which also reported that Vazquez was stripped of his blue check badge for being falsely verified as a musician on Instagram.
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