Pam Bondi opens investigation into fake social media followers - Florida Politics

Pam Bondi opens investigation into fake social media followers

Fake followers beware: Attorney General Pam Bondi is investigating “recent allegations of social media identity theft involving West Palm Beach company Devumi and related company Bytion.”

The investigation was announced on her official website.

“If you or someone you know has had their identity stolen and used to create a fake social media profile on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or any other social media platform please file a complaint with our office,” the site says.

“My Office has opened an investigation into these very serious allegations,” Bondi said in a statement. “I encourage any citizen who believes they have been a victim of this scam to please contact my office at (866) 9NO-SCAM or file a complaint online.”

A request for comment sent to Devumi from Florida Politics is pending.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Bondi, a Tampa Republican, joined in the investigation with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat.

He “announced on Saturday that he would begin reviewing whether the company had violated state laws against impersonation and commercial deception.” Devumi also has offices in New York City.

That makes for an unexpected pairing: Schneiderman sued President Donald Trump—a friend and political ally of Bondi—for $40 million, citing dozens of complaints over the defunct “Trump University.”

He alleged the program enticed students with a get-rich-from-real-estate scheme, then socked them with expensive and sub-par seminars. That ended in a $25 million settlement agreement in late 2016.

Bondi said her office received “one complaint” in 2011, which was closed by her citizen services’ staff, according to a Tampa Tribune account. Because the New York case sought relief for all former students, Bondi did not get involved with that lawsuit, she has said.

Bondi and Schneiderman’s move on Devumi follows another Times report Saturday on the firm’s “vast trade in fake followers and fraudulent engagement on Twitter and other social media sites, often using personal information taken from real users.”

“The Times found evidence that the information of Twitter users in every state—including thousands of people in Florida and New York—had been copied onto bots sold by Devumi or rival companies,” the story said.

After two terms as the state’s chief legal officer, Bondi is term-limited this year.

Jim Rosica covers state government from Tallahassee for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.
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