Hot on the heels of the SHEIN influencer scam is the newest contender- the Benefit Cosmetics collab scam. I was excited to skim my e-mail this morning and see a message from Benefit Cosmetics about a collaboration on launching their newest line. Unfortunately, as soon I noticed the Gmail address I was less excited, and then all hopes were dashed as soon as I read the e-mail. The was definitely NOT from Benefit Cosmetics.
How to Spot a Collab Scam
These collab scams usually prey on smaller influencers, where the excitement at being contacted by one of their favorite brands might overshadow all the red flags in this e-mail. Honestly, I was a bit giddy at the thought of working with Benefit. I love their stuff!
The biggest scam going around at the moment is for SHEIN, and it has managed to snag both big and small influencers with a better intro and a legitimate looking contract. However, it still has some of the telltale signs of a collab scam. Click here to read about the SHEIN influencer scam.
Check the E-mail Address
If a brand is going to contact you, especially if it’s from the “PR manager,” then it’s going to come from the main domain account. If it’s from Gmail, Yahoo, or any free service like that, then it’s a fake.
Notice the Language
The e-mail shouldn’t read as if English is a second language. A real e-mail will be well written and not full of grammar or spelling mistakes.
Who Sent It
Notice that my e-mail doesn’t even have a closing name, but they do introduce themselves at the beginning. The ones from SHEIN sometimes come from someone claiming to be the President or owner. Often a search on these names reveals them to be made up, or people that no longer work for the company.
In their first e-mail they asked my rates, so I made something up in my reply just to keep them going. Notice how they came back and offered me even more than my quote, along with an amazing offer – 10 free kits and a payment of $3,000 a month. Wow, wouldn’t that be awesome? Unfortunately, you know they say about those “too good to be true” offers.
Also, usually when a company contacts you about a launch, they want to send you a PR box. This actually pays nothing! They will send out boxes with each new product launch, and you can post and share if you like it. I love getting PR Boxes to share and don’t mind it’s not paid. The boxes are usually filled with fun stuff!
Don’t Get Fooled by the Links
Here’s where they get a little tricky. You’ll see a link in the e-mail below, where they ask me to sign up for an account and then notify them for the next step. If you click the link, it does take you to the Benefit Cosmetics website! All it is, is a link to create an account as a regular customer on the Benefit website. So I filled nothing out, but replied back saying I did and was ready to proceed.
The Fine Print in the Contract
Next up they sent me back a very official looking contract, with the Benefit Cosmetics logo head and correct address for the headquarters at the top. And lucky me, my payment was upped to $4000 a month and a $1000 bonus! Can’t beat that!
Good thing I’m the type to read all the fine print, and you’ll notice at the very bottom there’s going to be an upfront fee of $110 for shipping. Because that really makes sense that they’re going to pay me $5k, but I need to send them money first to ship the items.
Influencer collabs are not going to charge you a shipping fee! Read that again and remember it.
If any company contacts you about a collab, and then asks you to cover shipping, it is not a collab! It’s either a total scam like this one, or it’s one like the Instagram jewelry company scams (Luximina Jewels, Ghost Jewels, etc.) where you will actually get the items, but they are so cheap that the shipping fee you paid actually covers the cost of the entire order.
Be Wary and Google First
I’m sure Benefit isn’t going to be the last company to be spoofed by these scam artists. So just be wary of any kind of offer like this, and Google it first to see if anyone else has run into it. Or just message me- I’ve probably run into it, I get these so often!
About the Author
Candy Keane is a digital content creator and long-time cosplayer, most well-known for being on the cover of the Star Wars documentary Jedi Junkies. After making costumes professionally for over a decade, she now writes about about geek culture and mom life, and continues to cosplay for fun, while sharing her love of costumes on Instagram @SewGeekMama. Her first children’s book, I’m Going to My First Comic Convention, was published in 2020 and won a Story Monsters Approved award for Excellence in Literature.