Identity theft of influencer agents: how to fight?

On your Instagram account, you revealed that you were a victim of identity theft as the CEO of the influence agency Soeurette Productions. In practice, how does this phenomenon translate?

Janane Boudili: On Tuesday, June 21, I received messages from girls on my networks to inform me that professional emails had been sent to them from my inbox. However, it is a misspelled Hotmail address. In the emails, someone pretending to be me pretends to be casting an online casting for the next campaign for a lingerie brand that I can’t name. The usurper asks the girls to connect at two in the morning due to the time difference with the brand’s offices in New York. These girls explain to me that during the videoconference meeting the usurper’s sound and video are cut off. The person communicated with these girls only in the Skype chat tab to specifically ask them to take off their clothes and then to see how they posed. Two types of victims are targeted: ordinary people and especially content creators.

How has the agency handled this situation internally?

One of the agency’s four law firms filed a complaint. A dossier with supporting evidence has been assembled. Internally the work continues, my clients and my talents support me. And on my networks, several industry professionals and content creators thank me for talking about it. But this phenomenon actually goes beyond Soeurette Productions. The role of the influence agencies is to prevent and warn of these fake castings. I am currently working on the creation of an association that will be baptized “blocked.e” intended to accompany Gen Z on the excesses of social networks (harassment, cyberbullying, identity theft, addictions, in particular). Our agency is open to all victims awaiting the opening of the association, which should see the light by December 2022.

Read also: Sindyoff takes action against cyberbullying

In your opinion, what role can the platforms and, more generally, the GAFAs play in contrasting this phenomenon?

Hosts and mail platforms need to strengthen spam control, continue to conduct national campaigns against cyberbullying like the one we did for Instagram in September 2021 #LePoidsDesMots. But it also creates campaigns whose message revolves around different tips. A content creator, whether micro or macro-influencer, must verify the identity of the person who wishes to propose a casting, verify the address of the brand and Kbis headquarters, verify if the account is certified and the origin of its email address . A casting never takes place outside office hours. The role of the platforms is to invite users to sign up, but they must also inform and warn them of what is happening in this virtual world. Platforms are a superb evolution and revolution for Generation Z, but unfortunately there are some driftings sometimes.

“The first step is to write a press release to inform your community”

Alexandre Bigot-Joly, attorney at the court and founder of Influxio, a law firm dedicated to influence marketing.

“We have already seen this phenomenon of digital identity theft by influencers and content creators. The purpose of usurpers is often to spread false information about the influencer, damage him or damage his image. On the other hand, in the case of identity theft (art. 226-4-1 of the Italian Criminal Code) by a managing director of an influence agency, the aim is rather to defraud other victims. It is a criminal offense that entails a fine of 15,000 euros. And the first person who was victimized must at least be identified or identifiable. The first step is to write a press release and share it on the social networks of the agent, agency and / or influencer to inform your community. The second step is to collect elements, identify the sponsor, write down the email addresses used for the usurpation, then file a complaint with the police station on your own or through a law firm, this allows you to speed up the procedure and facilitate the processing of the file. Once the complaint has been filed with the court, the latter will designate a specific prosecution or chamber number depending on the type of crime. Subsequently, the Prosecutor’s Office will carry out a preliminary investigation to examine in particular the IP addresses and possibly contact the hosts and platforms. If the first appeal is not successful, it is possible to propose a second one and file a civil party. “

Strategies contacted other French agents and influence agencies. Some have never faced it, others have already dealt with usurpers in the past who pretended to be fake influencer agents.

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