Brand Ambassador Scams — How Companies are Utilizing “Influencer Marketing” to Scam Us All

seeing through the bullshit of brand ambassador programs
Post taken from a Facebook Group

Have you been contacted by one of those brands on Instagram, asking you to collab? It probably looks a little something like this: someone comments on your photo, “hey lovely! dm us to collab,” you get your hopes up, check their account, meh looks kind of promising, follow their instructions to DM them, and then boom: you’re hit with a discount code.

Now…don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with a discount code; however, that’s not exactly a “collaboration” in my eyes. A collaboration is typically when a brand wants to utilize your audience to promote a product and hence, offers you a product free of charge in order for you to organically promote it to your audience.

This is an email from a REAL brand wanting to collaborate

A legitimate brand wanting to work together will ALWAYS email you, especially if you have your email linked to your profile. Also, if you happen to be reaching out to brands through Instagram, nine times out of ten, he or she will instruct you to email them. Nothing good really goes down in the DMs to be honest.

Personally, companies  these fake Instagram brands comment on my photos all the time telling me to DM them to collab, then they just offer me some sort of discount code for 20-50 percent off. Normally, this would be awesome; however, many if not ALL of these online retailers reaching out for people to join their “influencer ambassador programs” are just Shopify stores run by people who are dropshipping their products from China and grossly inflating their prices just to make it look like a great deal.

For example, the site will showcase $60 t-shirts that look completely average, but with your shiny 50 percent off code, it seems as if you’re getting an awesome deal….when in reality, you’re still spending $30 on a t-shirt

…from an online store you don’t know, recognize or trust.

Side note: dropshipping is when an online store uses photos of product they do not actually have in inventory, then order the product after you have purchased it from the photo on their site. Typically, these items are produced in mass quantity and can be imported to a Shopify site from AliExpress, a Chinese version of Amazon pretty much.

If you genuinely like this company who approaches you and would like to put time and effort into becoming an ambassador for them, then all power to you. I just wanted to share my thoughts, since a few people have asked me what to do in this situation and how to respond to these brands. If you are considering joining an affiliate program however, make sure to watch out for the red flags so you don’t get scammed.

  1. Look at their Instagram content. If it’s solely other people wearing their products with absolutely no branding of their own, this means that it is not really an established brand.
  2. If the items are very expensive, b e w a r e. Most of these items are probably very poor quality and are not even worth the price you are about to pay WITH that discount code applied.
  3. If you don’t like many items on the online store, but feel as though you have to purchase something to be featured on their page and join the network, take caution. Because once you promote your affiliate code, chances are no one is going to use it because your audience is not interested in any the products either.

Coming from personal experience, I thought that these brands were somewhat legit at some point and found some cute, affordable items and thought hey, why not?! But, I actually ended up getting screwed over a couple of times by either receiving a product of extremely poor quality, or never receiving the product at all.

These companies are taking advantage of people and these shitty Shopify stores need to be stopped. They aren’t even worth any of our time; however, if you ever aren’t sure of what to say, I’d try this:

“Hey! Thanks so much for the offer; however, I’m only interested in collabs right now, not affiliate programs.”

This way, HOPEFULLY these brands start to take the hint and stop spamming us 1230984 times a day and using the word collab when it’s clearly just their tactic of making money for their shit products.

Let me know if this continuously happens to you to and what your response typically is! I’d love to get a conversation going about this and hear other opinions, even if they conflict with mine. Thanks guys!


18 thoughts on “Brand Ambassador Scams — How Companies are Utilizing “Influencer Marketing” to Scam Us All

  1. Great article! I had no idea about dropshops! And I’m stating to get the DMs to “work with us”. No I know what to do!!

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Stacy!! By all means, if you like the products from one of these stores you can still purchase. Just beware!! Thanks for reading.

  2. Thanks Tori on the behalf of all newbies like me who recently made fool by a company. I paid shipment and bought item 40%off only expense. Thanks for making it clear for us that we dont gave to purchase for collab n that company should have budget for that.

    1. Exactly!! I’m so happy that this could shine light on these issues that so many people are having. A true “collab” benefits both the brand AND the influencer.

  3. Yeah they spam my pictures with comments all the time luckily my boyfriends mom warned me about the scam and i didnt fall for it.

  4. I posted ONE picture of me running a half marathon and got hit up by two IG accounts within a few hours. Both told me they had a proposition for me. The comments were identical and so were both DMs. They’d give me 50% off as an “ambassador” and a 15% commission on any referral sales. No thanks.

    1. Exactly!! And the clothing is grossly inflated in price so that the 50% off actually just makes it normal price. Ridiculous!!

  5. I literally just got this type of comment on my posts on IG and I barely have 100 followers. I was wondering why the heck is this company contacting me? Glad to know it’s a scam. I’m not even going to respond to them. Thanks for the article.

  6. Would you happen to know if Tilt Pretty Active Wear is legit? Or maybe you can look into it for me-since you seem to have the eye for it. I have received emails from them- based on my instagram status (THEY TAG ME IN THEIR POSTS). They want me to purchase items at a discount with free shipping.(INTERNATIONALLY) They have a website (very small – not too many items but very cute) payment is through paypal only. (i found this odd) Can’t find them anywhere on social media other than insta. Basically they are offering features for their magazine after posting a photo in their active wear. I don’t want to fall into a trap. Being a brand ambassador is something I’d really like.

    Not sure what to do…

    1. Hi Helene! I definitely would NOT purchase anything from this company. They sound like they’re spamming you and under no circumstances should a brand ever be tagging YOU in their posts. This sounds like a case of someone utilizing drop-shipping to run an online store. If a brand is reaching out to you for your content and services, they should AT LEAST be providing you the product/item they’d like promoted.

      Trust me, if it seems sketchy, it most likely is!

      Hope this helped! Xx

    1. Hi there! I personally wouldn’t take a collab if they required that I pay for shipping costs because if anything goes wrong and the clothes don’t end up showing up, then I still lost out on money. If it is a reputable brand, they should never ask you to pay for shipping; however, if you’re just starting out and need clothes / collabs to get you started, then either ask for more product or ask them to pay for the shipping if you provide them with 20 photos for their social media/website/etc.

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