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Tip-toeing around sneaky swindlers

Step into the world of sneaker heads, but be wary of tying up your finances in a scam.

Fake-scam sneaker accounts are difficult to tell. We all see those fake Instagram accounts that randomly follow you or request to follow you. Fake-scam accounts on Instagram take quite a different spin when it comes to the buying, selling, trading of shoes, hype beast clothing and accessories.

Since the birth of Instagram, it was inevitable for sneaker head sellers and enthusiasts to jump on and share their love for sneakers and make it easier to be profitable. Websites like, and have made it easy to know about upcoming and anticipated release days and collaborations.

With this information, it was easy for sneaker and hype beast enthusiasts to pre-order and include their own personal collection when advertising on their own personal Instagram page.

Social media and the Internet, as a whole, have taken sneaker collecting from a niche subculture to an ever-present part of pop culture. The days of trying to find a unique pair of kicks are over. Some people still use eBay, but Instagram has become the biggest platform for hype beast apparel out-beating other popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, but they both come in as No. 2.

There are millions of active daily users on these popular social media platforms, and it’s completely free, making it the perfect place to make some money selling your sneakers without additional fees cutting into your profit margin.

A heap of sneakers may seem chaotic and intimidating to a mere bystander, but for a seasoned professional it is heaven.

Sneaker culture is driven by visuals, so because of that, Instagram is the preferred social media platform to view pictures of the sickest shoes. A combination of great pictures and the millions of Instagram users worldwide has created a enormous market for buying and selling sneakers.

It’s truly a paradise for sellers and buyers, but it can also be tricky trying to determine if you’re about to get robbed of your money —and the beautiful sneakers or other merchandise you wanted to make yours.

According to ABA Journal, since 2004 it has regularly been sending cease-and- desist letters to rogue operators and filing lawsuits whenever necessary. The strategy has paid off.

Some 19,000 links to counterfeiters have been taken down since the campaign began. In May 2015, Deckers Outdoor Corp. won a $686 million judgment against online counterfeiters after bringing two cases in federal court in Chicago. Deckers Outdoor Corp. also was awarded control over 3,000 domains, which the company redirected to a website that put consumers on notice that they were being used for counterfeit sales.

Matt Ayzenberg, 24, a Re Drop sneaker head, hype beast buyer and seller based in Ohio, knows what the signs are.

“Every sneaker bought is kind of a risk because you’re hoping it’s not a scam,” Ayzenberg says. “If the price seems to be too good to be true, (it is.) Don’t expect to be paying $40 for a pair of Jordans. They should be way more than retail. Glow in the dark and unreleased color ways are fake, too, unless they are only released in a size 9.5. It’s a rule. Look for a 9, 10.5 or 11.5 for fake sneakers. Not a lot of people know that fakes never come in those sizes. If you see every other size and not these, that should be a red flag.”

It is difficult to differentiate fake Instagram sneaker and hype beast apparel accounts. According to, the “fakes” industry is worth $461 billion. A report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development released in early April 2017 found that counterfeit trade amounted to as much as 2.5 percent of world trade in 2013, up from an estimated 1.9 percent in 2008. That’s equivalent to the size of Austria’s economy.

Footwear is the product counterfeited the most, according to the 2017 report, which was created in partnership with the European Union’s Intellectual Property office. While there are many honest sellers who love sneakers just as much as the collectors, one can never be too cautious when buying sneakers on Instagram – or any other social media platform.

Just keep in mind, you don’t know who exactly is on the other side of the phone or computer, or their intentions. There are plenty of amazing deals to be found online, but if it’s too good to be true, more than likely it is.

Those $400 Yeezys in a full-size run with free overnight shipping? Wow! On Instagram, they are almost guaranteed to be fake. Matthew Selvaraj, 22, a Chicago based sneaker head collector, buyer and seller has learned a few lessons himself.

“Buy low sell high is a what sneaker buyers have engraved in their mind.” Selvaraj says.

“Buying and selling sneakers is a really great way to get your hands on killer new sneakers and sell them to make a profit. It can be really difficult sometimes when I’m looking for a shoe, and sometimes it can be too good to be true. I’ve reported, blocked and advised a lot fake Instagram sneaker accounts that have robbed people. They are particular, but it’s a good to speak to other people that have bought from them to make sure they are reliable.”

With a little bit of diligence, weeding out the scammers can become easy. Aside from the sneakers, make sure the social media page seems legit. Check to see if they have a decent amount of actual followers —not a bunch of fake or purchased followers that plague Instagram. Instagram user @fakeeducation has other tips for sneaker heads.

There’s no such thing as being too cautious.

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