Instagram pictures of bikini-clad heiresses on their family yacht may garner thousands of likes – but their rich parents won’t feel the love if the social media snaps land them in legal trouble.
According to the Guardian, investigators have wised up to the pictures spoiled, bragging, rich kids posted on Instagram and other social media sites, and they’re using them as proof their parents are avoiding tax, involved in fraudulent schemes, or avoiding costly divorce pay-outs in ongoing cases.
By now we’re all acutely aware that our actions on social media may well have implications on the rest of our lives, including our careers. Back in January of this year, a Romanian engineer was fired for using Yahoo messenger to send messages to family members, not considered to be professional contacts.
We also saw Hydro One fire (and then subsequently rehire) employee Shawn Simoes after his sexist on-air rants to CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt in 2015.
But while these employees provided televised or recorded evidence that they weren’t performing their jobs to the standards expected, what if companies began digging even deeper for proof, going into our lives via social media?
And what if they broadened their gaze to not just look at us but also our families and their activity on social media?
A report by The Guardian, says that leading cyber security firms are using evidence from social media in up to 75 per cent of their litigation cases. These cases ranged from billionaire divorces to asset disputes between oligarchs, in which the online activity of their “super-rich heirs” pointed them towards tax fraud or wealth and valuables that had previously been denied.
In other words, while Daddy’s telling the lawyer that he doesn’t have a yacht to hand over to his ex-wife, his daughter is throwing a birthday bash for her friend on the family’s cabin cruiser in the south of France.
The Managing Director of K2 Intelligence in London, Oisin Fouere, referred to social media as their “first port of call” in an increasing number of cases. In one such scenario where they were looking to recover assets the opponent claimed to have no significant valuables – but later an investigator found a social media post from one of his children that showed them on his $25-million-dollar yacht in the Bahamas.
In another case a newly acquired jet was seized after the son of fraudster posted a picture of the pair in front of the aircraft on Instagram. Daniel Hall, director of global judgment enforcement at Burford Capital, described this as “the kind of jackpot scenario one hopes for.”
But not all investigations catch fraudsters hook, line and sinker. Many involve a complex investigation into their location, based on metadata accumulated and Geo-tags on social media that pinpoint their whereabouts.
Of course, in these cases we’re talking about the super-wealthy and elite. So you probably don’t need to worry about a call from the bank manager if you recently posted evidence of a shopping spree. But it does illustrate that no matter who you are, how high the stakes, or how incredibly dumb it is, people still can’t resist a bit of shameless Instagram self promotion.
Just ask 50 Cent, who spelled out ‘broke’ in $100 dollar bills on Instagram, months after filing for bankruptcy.
Perhaps it might be best if 50 Cent and the rich kids stuck to the candy shop for a while, instead of sipping Bacardi like it’s their birthday.