If you grew up during the 90s and early 2000s, you’ve probably spent a good portion of your life being well-aware that the Internet can be a pretty creepy place. Sure, there’s lots of useful and cool information on the Internet, but there are also a lot of predators and weirdos – and most people my age were taught early on that there are a lot of people online who aren’t who they say they are. Well, with those thoughts in mind, I’ve always considered myself a fairly intelligent Internet user. I don’t meet up with people in dark alleys, I don’t give out too much personal information, and I never click on those pop ups that tell me my computer is about to explode. So with that being said, I thought I had done my fair share of research after a company recently contacted me on Instagram and asked if I wanted to be a brand athlete. Now, I know people with lots of followers can make good money by sponsoring products on their pages, but I don’t have a lot of followers – not by anyone’s standards.
The company that contacted me, INTRVL Band, claims to be selling sort of timing bracelet that can help improve you interval training. They asked if I wanted to be a “brand athlete” for the company. Since I’m just getting back into the gym, and looking for any sort of help I can get, I thought, ‘ok, cool.’ A man named Jon left a comment under one of my pictures, and asked that I email him. Now, since I know I don’t have a lot of followers, I figured the comment was just some sort of automated post that was left on my page because of all the fitness tags I’ve been using. But since I’ve been trying to grow my Instagram page, I thought that any thing could help, so I decided to email Jon to learn more about the company and the product. In the mean time, I did some googling and thought everything looked pretty legit.
The company has a website, products, and a Kickstarter page (they actually have two, although one of them appears to have been abandoned. That should have been a red flag). When Jon responded, he explained that in order to be a brand athlete I’d have to purchase a product from the company, then they’d give ma customized discount code so that when other people purchased products using my code I’d get a cut. Under normal circumstances I would have hit them with a HELL NAH, and went on about my business, but like I said, I did some research and everything seemed legit. Plus, the product was only around 30 bucks, and I figured with buyer protection I could get my money back if they tried to play me.
So, I purchase my band, Jon gives me a discount code, and I’m thinking okay – maybe this could work. As all this is going on, I decided to tell my friend Roc about it. I thought maybe they might be interested in becoming a brand athlete as well. As I’m telling them, they tell me about another company that once contacted them with a similar proposition. Roc sends me the email that they received, and it looked slightly similar to the email I’d gotten from Jon.
Of course, by now, I figure more research is in order. In the meantime, I decided to email Jon to ask him if I was going to get any log in information regarding my discount code, because how else would I know if people were purchasing using my code? NO RESPONSE. A few days later, I received a CLEARLY automated e-mail with an update on the status of the INTRVL Band. Apparently, the product isn’t even finished yet. But ‘don’t worry’ because they’re working hard to bring you the best product possible. YEAH RIGHT.
So as I’m researching, I see that INTRVL Band, and the company that reached out to Roc, Fireline Strong, have quite a few sketchy things in common. Upon Googling Fireline Strong, I see that many of the e-mails, like the one Roc got, were initially sent out by a man named Jeremy Black. Well, lo and behold, Jeremy Black is also the man who started the Kickstarter page for INTRVL Band. To many things even more bizarre, both of these companies share the same phone number.
After doing even more research, I see that this Jeremy Black character is also connected to another fitness company called Division Supply, who has also been sending out emails similar to the ones Roc and I received. And well, you guessed it, Division Supply also has the same phone number as INTRVL Band and Fireline Strong.
When you actually call the number, it connects to some nutrition company that, of course, tells you that all agents are busy and then proceeds to hang up. Suspicious, right? I think so anyway. Well needless to say, I’ve contacted PayPal about getting my money back, but I just wanted to share this with anyone else who may be contacted by any of these companies. Although it seems like some of their products are actually real, there does seem to be something fishy going on. Be careful out here folks, cuz THEY DON’T WANT TO SEE US WIN *DJ Khaled voice*.
If you’re looking to get any sort of Instagram sponsorships, be careful for any companies that ask you to pay. Any real sponsor will give you free products. Also, DO YOUR RESEARCH. If you see any red flags, ABORT MISSION. There are way too many legitimate companies out there to waste time with something that feels fake. Social media can be a great tool, but it can also be another outlet for all those chatroom creeps from the 90s to find new ways to prey on people.
Have you had any experiences with any of these companies? If so, comment them below. Also, SHARE this post with your friends and family to spread the word about these scams.
featured image via intrvlband.com