A ton of cash, the right middleman and co-operative Instagram employee could be all it takes to own that IG blue checkmark.
A black marketer middleman who went by his first name James told Mashable that it’s just a sad reality of life.
“The fee is anywhere from a bottle of wine to $15,000, according to a dozen sources who have sold verification, bought verification for someone else, or directly know someone who has done one or the other.”
It’s a status symbol. The blue emblem can help people gain legitimacy in the business of influencer marketing and bestows some credibility within Instagram’s community of 700 million monthly active users,”a Mashable reporter Kerry Flyn gathered.
“It all comes down to money and who you know. It’s sad, but it’s kind of how life is, you know?”
Mashable's findings from James further revealed:
“James would find people who would pay for verification, and his friend on the inside of Instagram would make it happen.”
“I’ve sold verifications anywhere from $1,500 to $7,000.”
James even tries to sell it to Mashable via a DM saying “I mean if Mashable wants to pay for it, I can get you a blue check overnight."
James whose day job is running internet startups has sold five badges since starting the side business of IG verifications, his contact at Instagram charging as much as $1,200 per blue checkmark and he adding his own fee on top depending on the apparent interest or need of the buyer.
James and his contact at Instagram have to submit an official form, and cannot afford to get caught.
For the user who wants that blue tick so bad, it is not just a status symbol but a means to an end in the sense that the blue tick is used by influencers to get brands and businesses coming their way, to help them sell a product or service and get paid per post or via any other business model being put forward these days by Instagram and social media influencers.
This dark secret trade is known to be an open secret in the influencer community according to many who have these blue checkmarks, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
According to several verified and unverified influencers, Instagram itself forced the creation of this underground market, after making getting the blue mark such an exclusive and rather elitist privilege unlike on Facebook and Twitter where anyone can apply for a verification.
Instagram verification is granted through a form that is not publicly available, but is accessible to some people in the tech and media industries. Former employees, current employees, big media and entertainment companies have a portal where they can request name changes and verification, according to several sources.
They must submit the user's actual name and accounts along with a form of identity (like a passport) and the name of a contact at Facebook or Instagram. That's one way Instagram can hold employees accountable to not misuse their privileges for things like paid verification, according to several sources.