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EMAILED ON September 12, 2017 BY THE HUSTLE

The burgeoning black market for Instagram verification

These days, it doesn’t take much to build a following on Instagram: with a few hundred bucks and a Thai “click farm,” you can instantly amass thousands of fake followers, hearts, and comments.

And to hide the fact that you’re a phony, you can even buy yourself verification — that elusive little blue check mark next to your name that tells the world you’re special. Used to be mom’s job…

Blue check, please

While other social networks like Facebook and Twitter allow users to submit an application to get verified, the lords at Instagram hand them out on an individual basis, at their own discretion.

According to Instagram’s help page, only select “public figures, celebrities and brands” are given blue check marks, and there’s no formal system in place to request one.

But there’s one way to get around this

You can buy one

For between $1.5k and $15k, a growing number of middlemen with inside connections at Instagram are offering verification services.

One such middleman told Mashable that he’s a brokered a number of badges for around the $5k-7k mark and that typically, 60-80% goes to the Instagram employee; once this employee receives the cash, he or she fills out an internal form documenting the verification.

Reportedly, some of these crooked Instagram employees pull off this procedure 2-5 times per week and make a killing on the side.

Is making a million under the table worth risking your job over? Maybe. But $7k to show up higher in search results and maybe score a FitTea sponsorship? That’s gonna be a “no” for us, dawg.