Faking it on Instagram

Social media has shown as that people will do just about anything to appear popular and relevant. And it appears that paying money for fake likes on Instagram is now a reality.

Meet the Zeus virus. Originally developed by hackers to steal credit card information, it creates thousands of fake accounts on Instagram with the sole intention of liking photos and other accounts … for a price. Reports say the malware is powerful and is responsible for an array of hacker-related crimes. Microsoft has taken steps to wipe it out.

It turns out fake Instagram endorsements are relatively inexpensive. Coming in batches of 1,000, a batch of followers goes for about $15 in hacker forums. A batch of likes sells for around $30. Not too much to pay when it comes to status.

But businesses beware: Though having thousands of followers or hundreds of likes may make you appear relevant on the surface, your genuine followers will likely see through the fake accounts fairly quickly. This is something that can do more damage than good.