Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
CLOSE ×

Search

Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

Celebrity Impostor Scams


These days, celebrities routinely share career news, personal views, even travel videos on social media and interact with fans in comment threads. But if you get a direct message out of the blue from a favorite musician, actor or athlete, don’t get starry-eyed, get skeptical — it’s almost certainly a scam.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram teem with bogus celebrity accounts set up to deceive devoted fans. Scammers reach out to the real star’s followers, asking for money under a variety of pretexts: 

  • Donations to charity (sometimes for a cause associated with the actual celeb)
  • Exclusive tickets to private concerts or meet-and-greets
  • A surefire investment, often a cryptocurrency deal purporting to come from a famous business mogul
  • Processing fees for a big prize giveaway
spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership

Join AARP for $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal. Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine

Join Now

Another popular tactic is the phony livestream. The impostor account features a video commandeered from a star’s real social feed along with a message promising a cash prize to the first, say, 500 people who comment with a specified phrase or identify something hidden in an optical illusion. Respondents get a direct message asking for a bank account number or other personal data to facilitate a supposed payment.

Any celebrity with a social media presence can have their star power exploited by a scammer. Con artists are especially fond of abusing the bond between country music stars and their fans. Recent callers to the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline report scams name-checking Nashville icons Toby Keith, George Strait, Pam Tillis, Clint Black, Sara Evans and Travis Tritt, among others.

Impostors often seek targets by trawling comments on a fan page and responding with a personal message supposedly from the star. For example, if you post “I love you, Blake Shelton!” on the singer’s real Facebook or Instagram page, you might hear back from something like #SecretBlakeSheltonacct. The Blake impostor will say he’s flattered, values your fandom and would love to meet you ... if you first donate to his charity.

Fortunately, it’s not difficult to spot sham stars and counterfeit accounts if you know the red flags.

spinner image cartoon of a woman holding a megaphone

Have you seen this scam?

  • Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 or report it with the AARP Scam Tracking Map.  
  • Get Watchdog Alerts for tips on avoiding such scams.

Warning Signs

  • A social media post or direct message from a seemingly celebrity-affiliated account solicits money for a charitable donation or another purpose or promises a big prize if you respond.
  • The message asks for payment by gift card, prepaid debit card or wire transfer.
  • The account has little activity and few followers.
  • The account holder’s name is spelled wrong, like “Jeniffer Lopez,” or has unusual punctuation, such as “Will.Smith.TV.”

How to protect yourself from this scam

  • Google the celebrity’s name with the word “scam” to see if it has been connected to impostor schemes.
  • Report online celebrity impersonators to the relevant social network. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have procedures for reporting bogus accounts.
  • Don’t give personal information or send money via gift card, wire transfer, prepaid debit card or peer-to-peer payment app to someone you don’t know and have only communicated with online, no matter how supposedly famous.
  • Don’t engage with a supposed celebrity on an unverified social media account, even if they don’t initially ask for money.
  • Don’t believe claims about why a purported celebrity account has an unusual handle — for example, that it’s a private account the star keeps secret from management.
See more Health & Wellness offers >

More Resources

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?

spinner image cartoon of a woman holding a megaphone

Have you seen this scam?

  • Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 or report it with the AARP Scam Tracking Map.  
  • Get Watchdog Alerts for tips on avoiding such scams.