Instagram virus creates fake ‘likes’ and followers in lucrative marketing scam

A virus typically used to steal credit card information has been repurposed to target Instagram, generating fake “likes” and followers, and selling them online. As Reuters reports, these fake “likes” are then sold in batches of 1,000 on online forums, and can fetch surprisingly high prices. According to security firm RSA, 1,000 Instagram followers sell for around $ 15 online, while 1,000 “likes” selling for $ 30. The same number of credit card numbers, by comparison, go for as little as $ 6.

Experts say this price discrepancy reflects the growing value of social media to businesses or individuals who want to promote their brands or products. Buying fake likes is an easy — if ethically nebulous — way to generate false hype around a…

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