Over the past few weeks, our Instagram followers–along with the editors at Cigar Aficionado–have identified several fake Instagram accounts impersonating our magazine, and trying to steal money and identities from cigar lovers. This has also happened to Cigars International (@cigarsinternational), the major online cigar retailer.
The accounts operate in similar ways, following or direct messaging people who follow cigar accounts with names similar to a cigar business (@cigaraficionadoPrize for example). They might offer a prize or claim they are supporting Covid-19 efforts, and proceed to request personal information (bank account, social security numbers, etc.). If you refuse to give them this information, they’ll say they’re moving on to someone else–another potential victim.
William White, a fellow cigar enthusiast, informed us, “They messaged me from an account saying they were linked to your [Cigar Aficionado] account and told me I won a $1,000 gift card. They asked if I’m interested and then asked for my personal information in order to electronically deposit the money (the only way they could do it). When I said no, they said ‘Alright, we will be moving on to the next winner.’ ”
In order to help protect you, we would like to point out the fake accounts we and Cigars International have identified, as well as provide information that can help you avoid being scammed by them (or other fake accounts) in the future.
Do not respond to requests from the following accounts:
Cigar Aficionado magazine has one Instagram account: @CigarAficionado (@cigaraficionado). There is a blue check mark after the name. The only other accounts directly affiliated with our publication are @bigsmokemeetswhiskyfest , an account dedicated to our inaugural event scheduled for October 31, and @CAbigsmoke. Our parent company, M. Shanken Communications, also owns the publications Wine Spectator and Whisky Advocate, among others, but there is no other Instagram account that legitimately represents Cigar Aficionado.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid being scammed:
- Don’t follow accounts that claim to be giving away prizes in their name.
- Look for the blue check mark next to our name.
- Check the amount of followers. Our main page @cigaraficionado has more than 200,000 followers, and @cigarsinternational has nearly 44,000 followers. Those that have much fewer should stand out as scams.
- Alert us, and Instagram about any other accounts you come across that claim to be affiliated with Cigar Aficionado. We can confirm it is not us, and also help to get these accounts removed from Instagram.
Please feel free to DM us at @cigaraficionado with any information you have regarding fake accounts so we can bring down these frauds together.