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Pensioner prank: How elderly Moscow man became ‘millionaire’ Instagram star… for just $800

Pensioner prank: How elderly Moscow man became ‘millionaire’ Instagram star… for just $800
Two friends hired a pensioner to create a fake Instagram account about the lavish lifestyle of an ‘elderly millionaire’ from Moscow. Sixteen thousand followers later, and the man behind the idea has confessed to the hoax, bewildered at how easily people were fooled.

“I’m slightly losing it, blown away by how easy it is to deceive people and how those who should rigorously fact check, never actually do it,” marketing consultant Roman Zaripov wrote on his Facebook page, where he spilled the beans on the sham he concocted with a blogger friend.

The idea for the popular Instagram character, a wealthy 60-something man, came to the two friends when they saw an article about how much (spoiler: a lot) it would cost to create a social media star. 

“The article mentioned a six or seven-digit number. It left us baffled but we accepted the challenge immediately,” Zaripov wrote in his ‘confession.’

With just 34 photos on Instagram, ‘Boris Bork’ – the men’s creation – became an instant sensation, attracting more than 16,000 followers, media attention and business offers.

Bogger Mikhail and Roman spent 50,000 rubles (US$795) on their very own ‘Pygmalion,’ transforming an average pensioner from the Moscow suburbs into a rich man-about-town type surrounded by fancy cars and leggy women.

“It’s easy to find the appropriate setting for a photo shoot in central Moscow and you can hire expensive cars and private jets for an hour for a few thousand rubles. The same goes for attractive girls,” Zaripov explained, describing how the photos were made.

One of the most attractive features people go for on social media is a sense of humor. In one of the photos, ‘Boris’ can be seen lunching in one of Moscow’s most expensive restaurants – except he’s actually tucking into a cheap chain restaurant burger instead of what’s offered on the menu.

In 2015 artist Amalia Ulman turned her Instagram into performance art when she created a completely fake identity exploring popular female characters on social media. She too won thousands of followers who were instantly drawn to the clichéd success story meticulously documented in her profile.

Small presents are the best gifts. Paying attention to details.✨ #friends #family #birthday #sister

A photo posted by Amalia's Instagram (@amaliaulman) on

Over five months, fans followed Ulman’s fake move from Argentina to LA and her breakup with her boyfriend – after which she became a ‘sugar baby,’ got a boob job, took drugs and had a breakdown.