Inside the black market where people pay thousands of dollars for Instagram verification

Excerpt from this article:

The product for sale isn’t a good or a service. It’s a little blue check designated for public figures, celebrities, and brands on Instagram. It grants users a prime spot in search as well as access to special features.

More importantly, it’s a status symbol. The blue emblem can help people gain legitimacy in the business of influencer marketing and bestows some credibility within Instagram’s community of 700 million monthly active users. It cannot be requested online or purchased, according to Instagram’s policies. It is Instagram’s velvet rope.

But it’s clear from people who spoke on the condition of anonymity, many of whom have their own blue checkmarks, that a black market for Instagram verification is alive and well.

And it’s an open secret in the influencer community.

“It all comes down to money and who you know,” said one seller, who agreed to go by his first name, James. “It’s sad, but it’s kind of how life is, you know?”