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Australian fashion retailer Cotton On has warned that an Instagram contest held by an account similar to its name is fake, in a reply to an enquiry by Vulcan Post on Saturday.

This is a fake Instagram account. Thank your bringing it to our attention. We have reported the breach to Instagram who will handle the matter,” a Cotton On spokesperson said.

Cotton On Singapore

The Instagram contest requires users to first follow the contest holder named ‘CottonOnOfficialSingapore’. Participants must then screen capture the process before finally posting it on the social media platform to count as an entry.

According to the contest holder’s bio field, the first 10,000 followers will receive a $100 off discount. The official Cotton On website link was also included in the description box. No photos were posted on the account.

More than 200 Intagram users (and counting) have joined the contest as of 17 May 2014.
More than 200 Intagram users (and counting) have joined the contest as of 17 May 2014.


A participant of the fake Cotton On contest.
A participant of the fake Cotton On contest.

Another contest using the exact promotion mechanics purportedly organised by Pull & Bear was also held. Vulcan Post was unable to reach the major Spanish accessories and clothing retailer for comment.

A quick check by this writer showed that Cotton On has an official Instagram account with the name ‘CottonOn’. It has 115,000 followers as of now and follows four other users, that is CO. by Cotton On, Cotton on Foundation, Global Citizen and model Lara Bingle. The account regularly posts pictures of models sporting the brand’s outfit.

Similar bogus Instagram contests have appeared before, notably the ones which targeted American airline companies such as Delta Air Lines in 2012. The contest mechanics employed were almost identical with the first 20,000 participants offered free airline tickets for following and posting shout-outs of the page.

Photo: Business Insider
Photo: Business Insider

There is one major difference though: In the cases involving the major airline companies, the Instagram accounts had names with ‘giveaway’ in them. However, in the recent Cotton On and Pull & Bear episodes, the accounts used the term ‘OfficialSingapore’ or ‘SG’. This was probably done to paint more credibility on the contests.

It is unsure what the objective of holding such fraudulent contests are. The participants’ confidential information and money are not compromised in these instances. Users are deceived but they do not suffer any loss of value.

A strong possibility could be how the account holder would change its name, display photo and biography into something else once the target 10,000 followers is met. Once the details have been amended, he or she could start marketing and selling products to the ready fan-base.

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