Young People's Instagram Profiles Are Being Used for Fake Porn Accounts 

Last week, Toronto-based model Alay Bowker woke up to over 50 messages from her friends and followers notifying her that there was a JustForFans profile and Instagram account made using her photos and videos.

“People that I know in the industry started following the account because they thought it was me. A photographer even called me after he saw the account and the Instagram stories saying ‘what the fuck are you making an [JustForFans]?’” said Bowker.

It’s common to see adult JustForFans or OnlyFans content advertised on social platforms like Twitter or Instagram—but a new internet scam has surfaced that uses this marketing tactic to advertise fake OnlyFans and JustForFans pages for people who have never set up an account.

JustForFans and OnlyFans are both subscription-based services, commonly used to sell amateur adult content online. Everyone from YouTubers, TikTok stars, sex workers, celebrities, models, and maybe some of your own friends have hopped on the platform to sell their nudes to their thirsty followers for a monthly fee, potentially pocketing thousands per month.

VICE News has learned Instagram users in Canada, the United States, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and France have been targeted for a scam where the content of their accounts are used to promote fake OnlyFans and JustForFans pages hosted and built on the website-builder Wix. The fake pages that are linked in the Instagram accounts ask for billing information as a form of age verification to access a free trial of the service.

Over the last week, hundreds of people around the world have opened up on Twitter about waking up to find Instagram profiles claiming to be selling their nudes.

“Some disgusting low life made a fake Instagram account pretending to be my underage 17 year old sister and is promoting a fuckin only fans,” Twitter user @roxxiej wrote. “Messaging friends AND FAMILY to subscribe. AND THEYRE ACTUALLY MAKING MONEY FROM THIS.”

All of the scam accounts seen by VICE News follow a similar format on the Instagram account and use a similar template on the Wix-hosted site that resembles an authentic JustForFans or OnlyFans account. The fake Instagram accounts use the same name, profile photo, and a similar username to the authentic account. To attract an audience, the Instagram account strategically follows hundreds of users that follow and interact with the authentic user on Instagram. A similar bio to the authentic account is also used.

After creating the account, the authentic account is blocked by the scam account, stopping the authentic account from knowing it exists or if it has been deleted.

This specific format has been used to impersonate Instagram profiles viewed by VICE News around the world, but it’s unknown at this time who is behind the scam.

Wix did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment.

Instagram said they “do not allow people to impersonate others on Instagram” and “will not tolerate extortion or harassment of this nature”

“We recommend that people report these impersonators and scams. We absolutely do not want anyone to be impersonated or scammed in this way, or any way, so [we will] continue to improve our systems and teams to ensure we’re acting as quickly as possible to keep our community safe,” Instagram said in the statement to VICE News.

Bowker said she and her friends reported the fake account to Instagram, but it took six days for it to come down—shortly after VICE News questioned Instagram about it.

“I expected that the account would have been taken down immediately after I reported it, and since I couldn’t see the account since I was blocked I assumed it was taken down,” said Bowker. “But a couple days later, my sister said it was still up and people I knew were following the account because they thought it was me.”

Along with using the Instagram users’ existing content, the scammers have even posted nondescript sexually suggestive videos on the fake Instagram account to promote a free monthly subscription to their nudes. Blurred-out sexually explicit videos have also been posted on some of the fake OnlyFans and JustForFans sites, stating the full video can be unlocked after entering banking information to verify the age of the user and that they will not be charged.

When the scammers made an Instagram account using San Jose-based college student Irene Kuang’s name and photos, they posted “a low quality video of a girl playing with herself” alongside a prompt to subscribe to the fake JustForFans account, she said. Kuang believes people, without knowing it’s a scam, would assume it’s her.

“I take my reputation very seriously and I want to put off a certain image. I also want to pursue a professional career, and someone thinking I had an [JustForFans] would easily taint my career. Once that impression is there, you’re done for,” Kuang said.

“If people aren’t established [online] they are easier to target. A porn star or a celebrity has access to the resources, they have the funds, they might even have an entire litigation team to get to the bottom of this. But one normal college student who has an Instagram account does not have the money or the time to invest in an investigation,” said Kuang.

Racquel Goldy, a freelance journalist based in Miami, Florida, was upset when she found out there was a fake account of her.

“You better believe the moment I saw [the account] I said ‘who do I need to send a cease and desist letter to,’” said Goldy, who has yet to send the letter.

Goldy was let go from her job at a local radio station due to the coronavirus pandemic, and now relies on sponsored posts and brand partnerships posted on her Instagram account for income. She said the fake account advertising that she has an OnlyFans account could ruin her professional reputation. “Since losing my job, these [brand partnerships] are what’s keeping me afloat,” Goldy said. “This is the last thing people like me need to happen to them.”

Goldy says Instagram and Wix have made it too easy for the scammers to impersonate her identity and potentially collect her followers’ banking information. If stricter regulations are not set by both Instagram and Wix, Goldy said she is afraid this could happen to her, and others, again.

In order to create an genuine OnlyFans account, the creator must provide a photo holding their ID in the image to prove that they are the account holder. Similar verification processes are in place when becoming a JustForFans verified account.

Currently, there are no identity verification processes in place when opening up a free Wix website or an Instagram account.

“A url at http://wixsite.com is pretending to be a number of fan platforms, including us. They may use our banner, but the url is http://wixsite.com, not us,” JustForFans wrote in a statement on Twitter. “It’s fake. We’re trying to stop it from happening, but please contact them directly if they are using your image.”

OnlyFans said they are also aware of the fake OnlyFans websites hosted on Wix and “have been actively working with [its] internal DMCA team to report every single fake profile.”

“We also advise the victims to report the fake profiles to Wix themselves. These fake profiles are obviously extremely concerning to the victim and the primary aim is to help them get the offending sites removed,” OnlyFans said in a statement to VICE News. “There is then the issue of the use of OnlyFans’ branding in this fraud, and our legal team is handling this matter with the appropriate parties.”

Follow Nathan Sing on Twitter.