Update on March 22, 2014: After this blog was posted, I was informed that even the verified pages of some prominent Bollywood personalities on Facebook are fake. I was also told not to update this information on my blog but to wait for an announcement from one of such celebrity.
Alia Bhatt’s official Facebook page is fake and so is Rohit Shetty’s. I was told that Alia will clarify on Twitter that some people unknown to her are earning money out of a Facebook page that claims to be her official account.
There are more ‘verified’ but fake pages on film personalities out there on Facebook. I am sure we will soon get to know about them soon as more Bollywood celebrities come forward and take action against people running fake Facebook pages.
Today morning Alia Bhatt and her family took to Twitter and declared war against “cons on Facebook” who are trying to earn a quick buck by cashing on Bollywood celebrities.
Alia Bhatt’s elder sister, Pooja Bhatt first declared that her verified page on Facebook is being run by con-men who have no connection with Alia. Here is her tweet.
Oh and all those subscribing to http://t.co/NNtnZRiX4z prepare to be shattered. It’s FAKE! All these cons on Facebook should be dealt with.
— Pooja Bhatt (@PoojaB1972) March 22, 2014
Alia Bhatt also endorsed her sister’s tweet with this tweet from her account soon after.
I do not have a Facebook page ! All pages being handled are fake.. Please do not follow :)
— Alia Bhatt (@aliaa08) March 22, 2014
— Alia Bhatt (@aliaa08) March 22, 2014
I also spoke to Rohit Shetty’s spokesperson about his verified page on Facebook. It turns out that this page called ‘Rohit Shetty official‘ is fake too. Rohit Shetty hasn’t made his Facebook account public yet.
Expect more Bollywood celebrities to come forward and declare that they have no connection with their official Facebook pages.
I have been religiously following this trend of how Facebook has been a breeding ground for such criminals.
Here is the story…
It started with a phone call.
In the course of a casual conversation with Malaika Arora-Khan about an event that my media house was going to host, she confessed that she is tense. She revealed that she had just returned after lodging a complaint with the cops against a ‘woman’ who was using her identity to dupe Bollywood aspirants.
Smelling that there must be something newsworthy in it, I asked her to give me the details. She forwarded me the copy of the police complaint, which appeared in the next day’s paper. A research on the topic revealed that this duping business was spreading like cancer. Sadly, crooks continue to use the same modus operandi to this day even though such racket were exposed about 10 years ago.
Almost every Bollywood celebrity is affected
When Facebook was yet to adopt Twitter’s idea of verifying celebrity accounts, this social networking site used to be the favourite hangout of impostors who would use fake celebrity profiles to lure girls (and boys too).
Strangely, even after Facebook has started verifying the celebrity accounts, the problem has only intensified.
Just a few days back, I got a call from a casting director about an unusual demand being made by a celebrity director. The casting director told me that the celebrity director has been pestering him for ‘glamourous’ photos of ‘aspiring’ actresses, but wouldn’t confirm the casting them in any project.
An irate Akshay Kumar recently posted a status on Facebook, cautioning the public about a racket being run by a group of people claiming to be his fan club members. It is still not known whether the actor has lodged a police complaint or not.
The number of stars harassed by these rackets are endless. Some of the prominent names are: Arbaaz Khan, Salman Khan, Ranveer Singh,Prakash Jha, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Varun Dhawan, Sushant Singh Rajput, and John Abraham.
In fact, every week I get to hear about people who get conned by this racket. So, I thought that I should write about this racket as a warning to aspiring actors, who want to make a cut in Bollywood.
Chatting up on Facebook
You won’t get an inkling of the real activity of these ‘celebrity’ accounts if you visit their profiles because they operate through chats. These accounts usually wait for a friend request from a profile and then one fine day will say ‘hi’ to you over a FB chat. In some cases, expect them to start the conversation all of a sudden.
The game begins with the first ‘hello’. At first, the ‘celebrity’ will compliment you on your good looks and will tell you that you are well-suited for the role of heroine of a Bollywood film. Here is a step-by-step process how the ‘celebrity’ will deal with you.
1. The person will first tell you that he/she is in the process of casting for a film or a serial that is about to begin the following year.
2. Then they will inform you that you suit the role best and offer to cast you in the project, provided you meet the requirements.
3. They will then ask you to send a few portfolio pictures to be considered for the role.
4. They will ask you to ensure that the pictures are ‘glamorous’, which in Bollywood parlance means pictures with a lot of skin is visible.
5. In the end, will come the ultimate demand. A few shots where you are wearing a bikini.
How to see through a fake profile
Unfortunately, the demand for bikini pictures is a standard demand for casting agencies in Bollywood. It has been reported time and again that some casting agents will never fail to demand that aspirants give them their bikini shots. It has become a standard operation procedure. But there are certain checks to ensure that your bikini pictures are not falling into the wrong hands.
Here are some pointers on how to deal with them:
1. No top-notch celebrity acts as a casting agent. If you have received a mail or Facebook chat from a profile of a celebrity, be on guard because it might be fake.
2. Whenever you receive such a mail, check from your friends if such a casting agent exists or if the celebrity is really casting through FB.
3. Before sending over your pictures, ask for the person’s phone number. Fake agents or celebs will never share their phone numbers.
4. Ask for a meeting or offer to drop your portfolio at their office. Fake agents will insist that you send it over to them only on mail.
5. It is possible that they might share the number of their assistant if they are too daring. Check the antecedents of the person before handing over the pictures.
There are several ways to report a Facebook profile and you can always follow-up your complaint with a mail to the Cyber Crime department of the Mumbai police. The mail ID is firstname.lastname@example.org and the telephone number is +91 – 022 – 24691233.
Want to know why you are being told to be cautious before sending over your pictures in a bikini?
Just Google with the keywords: Indian model and bikini.
Some of the these sites actually pay money to users submitting these pictures. It takes just a few seconds for these pictures to go viral.
Update on March 23, 2014: Facebook had briefly suspended the fake profile of Alia Bhatt. It is back online but without too many followers. However, the fake profile of Rohit Shetty continues to exist. May be, because Rohit hasn’t taken any action against the hosts of the page.