An investigation has been launched in the Balearic Islands after Police received allegations of an Instagram fraud from several restaurateurs.
The suspect allegedly contacted the owner of a well-known pizzeria in Santa Ponsa a few days ago with an advertising proposal for his restaurant, saying he would be spending 3 days holiday in Minorca, 3 in Ibiza and 3 in Majorca.
The restaurateur thought it might be a good idea since Instagram is a great marketing tool for businesses, but says a quick online check raised his suspicions.
"After analysing the profile, I found that more than 80 percent of the followers were fake,” he said.
The suspect had allegedly set up an Instagram profile with 127,000 followers who didn't exist.
Before going on holiday he contacted hotels, restaurants and small service companies, offering free advertising for a fee, but because the Instagram followers were fake the businesses got nothing out of it.
A bar in Minorca fell victim to this alleged scam and the owner says a couple ate for free and pocketed 120 euros for their services. The suspect was allegedly promoting more than 30 establishments in Spain via Instagram, with locations, names and telephone numbers.
The scammers are estimated to have gleaned more than 70,000 euros in addition to free products, meals, hotel stays and gifts.
"A man was arrested in Italy for doing exactly the same thing and I just don’t want any other restaurateurs to be affected because we are all going through very difficult times,” said the complainant.
The growing number of complaints from restaurateurs persuaded the National Police to open an investigation.