Is there anything we as a society love more than influencers and scams? Speaking for myself, no. And when influencers and scams unite into one story, it provides a hate-follow synergy that is just unparalleled (like when a fake influencer got arrested or an influencer charged her fans hundreds of dollars for a scam course or Fyre Festival happened). So this latest story brings me the most joy, because an influencer faked going to Coachella just for the Instagrams. I want to be mad, but honestly I’m not even mad.
The influencer’s name is Gabbie Hanna, and she has a cool 3.8 million Instagram followers. The New York Post called her Australian, but Wikipedia says she’s from Pennsylvania. So what is the truth? That’s Gabi’s first scam, if you ask me. I think she’s also a Youtuber, because in 2019, anyone out here still making Youtube videos has got to be doing it as a part of their brand. Otherwise, it’s social suicide.
Anyway, Gabbie posted a 23-minute long video explaining how and why she faked going to Coachella. As for the how, she just got dressed in festival clothes, took a bunch of pictures at her friend’s house in Marina del Rey (was the friend Scheana?) and then had a friend Photoshop it. Honestly, I’m impressed. It’s funny because a few of her “Coachella” photos actually popped up in my explore page and I didn’t question their authenticity. This friend is pretty f*cking good at Photoshop. Maybe the Kardashians should hire her?
View this post on Instagram
OOPS i faked it all! go check out the video on how i pretended to go to coachella up now! ? *photoshop by @kellansworld – felt kinda weird going to hoechella on such a holy day so i decided to cover up in my great-grandmas AdOrAbLe 2 piece set for day 3 ? getting day drunk with my nipples out in a field surrounded by EDM music doesn’t exactly scream “Christ Has Risen!” so I decided to take it easy today. On a side note: Kanye’s service this morning was beautiful. Happy Coachella! i mean, Easter! #coachella #coachellaweekend2 #weekend2 #coachella2019 #day3 #easter #hoechella #chella
This was the photo I saw a few days ago, before Gabbie updated the caption, and at first I kind of glazed over the caption and moved on to the next photo. But now, reading it, this is actually f*cking genius. “Getting day drunk with my nipples out in a field surrounded by EDM music doesn’t exactly scream ‘Christ Has Risen!’ so I decided to take it easy today”? Hilarious. What does “taking it easy” really mean in this context, anyway? Getting less day drunk? Covering your nipples? Certainly not refraining from posting a fake candid pic. She seems to be subtly poking fun at the hypocrisy of people who post thirst traps tied to religious holidays (or other holidays—never forget Ariel Winter’s famous bikini Memorial Day pic). I love it.
As for why Gabbie went through so much trouble (and she really did; in the video, she mentions that she got up at 8am for this fake photoshoot), she basically did it to expose how fake social media is. “Social media is a lie!” she yells in her video. She says that even though she completely faked going to Coachella, other people are doing it too, but to a lesser extent. For example, she says that she knows of people who only go weekend 1, but double up on outfits so that they can post during weekend 2 as if they are actually there, when in reality, they’re at home. Gabbie says, “What I’m doing isn’t that far from reality anyways, I’m just not going to Palm Springs.” I’m not going to lie, I feel scammed, hustled, bamboozled, hoodwinked, led astray by this revelation, seeing as there’s one girl I follow (I won’t name names) who’s been posting Coachella photos continuously for the past two weeks. Now I’ve got to wonder if it’s all one big lie.
View this post on Instagram
OOPS i faked it all! go check out the video on how i pretended to go to coachella up now! ? *photoshop by @kellansworld – and you thought my yellow hair was over ? (tysm @guy_tang for coloring this @bellamihair wig so beautifully?) side note: if you’re someone who isn’t familiar with wigs, a day long music festival in 95 degree heat is not the place to give it a go ? learn from my mistakes, children!? #coachella #coachella2019 #coachellaweekend2 #weekend2 #chella #ootd #coachellaoutfit #roadtocoachella #420 #day2
I was ready to hate on this girl, but her stunt (let’s call it what it is) was actually very informative in showing just how deep people will go to appear to be living their best lives on Instagram. I mean, we already know that people are posting fake #sponcon to seem more legit, so Photoshopping yourself at various enviable locales isn’t that much of a stretch—and honestly, I feel naïve that I never considered that as an option before. (Catch me this year at the Met Gala.)
And yet, I can’t help but cast a slight side-eye at people who make fun of others for trying too hard, while they themselves try extremely hard. Is it crazy to do a million outfit changes simply to increase the longevity of your photos? Absolutely. But you know what’s also crazy? Waking up at 8am for a pretend photoshoot whose purpose is to point out how fake everybody else is being.
The clear difference here, though, is that Gabbie’s farce actually helps educate people (or at least, me) about how you seriously can’t take a single thing you see on social media at face value. Everybody else’s fake Instagrams are self-serving, to convince followers they lead a life of jet-setting while they’re actually living with their parents and in debt, or working a soul-sucking job and shelling out over a grand for a weekend of overcrowded live music sets and some pictures.
Gabbie’s move is especially smart given that The Atlantic just published a piece arguing that the days of influencers are numbered. Told mostly through anecdotal evidence, it explores how the kids these days are looking for more authenticity on Instagram, and eschewing the highly curated, perfectly posed, preset filtered pics we millennials popularized. No longer is posing in front of a rainbow wall going to get you likes, The Atlantic argues: “Because so many people adopted that aesthetic, that has become passé. We’re living in influencer overload.” Lynsey Eaton, co-founder of the influencer-marketing agency Estate Five, tells The Atlantic, “the pink wall and avocado toast are just not what people are stopping at anymore.” The piece argues that, instead, users are looking towards “a messier and unfiltered vibe”, posting photos of themselves where they don’t look camera-ready, and even editing their photos to make them look sh*ttier with apps like Huji, that give pictures the effect of being taken with a disposable camera.
But I think this characterization is a little overly simplified, because we can’t conclude that nobody likes those filtered pics. Gabbie Hanna’s own Coachella photos, which fall right into that signature millennial influencer aesthetic—faux candid and all—garnered between four and five hundred thousand likes each. Many of her other photos, by comparison, hover between two and three hundred thousand likes. To be fair, I don’t know if the Coachella photos took off after the ruse was revealed, and that accounts for the difference in likes, or if it’s because people genuinely liked the pics when they thought they were mere jealousy porn.
What I do know is that even if younger generations are gravitating towards true #nofilter content, that other fake stuff exists out there and is popular. Even one of The Atlantic’s own interview subjects claims to be over posing in front of colorful walls for her feed, but if you visit her Instagram page, she is still clearly doing that. Even if we are moving away from the millennial Instagram aesthetic, it’s going to take a while (unless Instagram actually removes likes from posts). In the meantime, it’s helpful to have people like Gabbie Hanna remind us just how phony it all is, and the lengths people will go to in order to maintain that façade.
Images: gabbiehanna / Instagram
You know how much we love a good Instagram influencer scandal, so I was thrilled to learn about today’s story. It has everything: alleged money laundering, expensive cars, a fake influencer, and multiple arrests. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Jenny Ambuila. Her story is reminiscent of the Anna Delvey saga, but like, if her entire family was in on it. I’m still trying to put all the pieces of this story together, but let’s go through what we know.
Jenny Ambuila is a 26-year-old woman who is originally from Colombia, but she’s now based in Miami. She has two different Instagram accounts, and both have over 10,000 followers. They’re both set to private now, but luckily her Facebook page is still public as hell (at press time, anyway), and from Jenny’s photos, you’d think she has some serious money. She loves to post about her Lamborghini, her expensive handbags, and her lifestyle of luxe international travel. Before we even get to the whole reason this is all fake, let’s first talk about her social media presence. The funny thing is that this girl doesn’t seem to have any sort of aesthetic or photo editing skills. Usually with influencers, they have some kind of “look” to their feed, and they take quality photos (or just edit the hell out of them to make them look quality). Jenny’s Facebook photos, though, just look like she just hit the “upload new profile picture” button and banged it out right then and there without even applying any filters. She’s not even posing! It’s tacky as hell, and I love it.
In case it wasn’t clear already, Jenny Ambuila might be my favorite person. There is truly nothing I love more than an aspiring influencer who spends all her time trying to seem bougie on social media. What’s not to love? This Instagram bio has all of my favorite things: multiple random cities, incoherent job descriptions, and the exact kind of car she drives:
Jenny Ambuila really is that bitch, and her Twitter page is proof. She only has eight followers on Twitter (lmao), but she’s still using it to brag about how hardcore her life is:
10 insane days in Vegas. Zero sleep, full time partying & excessive drinking.
— JennyLifestyler (@JennyLifestyler) May 30, 2018
I’ve got to wonder, with eight Twitter followers and no likes on this tweet, who was she allegedly “full time partying & excessive drinking” with??
Live footage of me scamming men and avoiding all my responsibilities:
I’m obsessed. This whole thing reeks of new money, and so obviously her parents must be loaded, no? Well… no. Jenny is a student at University of Miami, so her lifestyle is bankrolled by her dad, who lives back in Colombia. The problem? Jenny’s dad is a customs inspector at a sea port, and he only makes $3,000 a month. Now, I’m no math genius, but by my calculations, that’s not nearly enough to buy a $300,000 Lamborghini. Something does not compute! To paint a picture for you, I make more than Jenny’s dad, and I can barely afford a monthly Metrocard.
Clearly, Jenny’s lavish posts raised some eyebrows back in Colombia, and this led authorities to launch an investigation into her purchases. Turns out, her father Omar has allegedly been accepting bribes in order to let goods into the country tax-free. Since 2012, he’s reportedly pocketed millions of dollars in illegal payments, which sounds a bit more like Lamborghini money than that $3,000 a month we were talking about before.
Last Friday, Jenny and both of her parents were arrested while on vacation in Colombia, and now they’re on house arrest while they face money laundering charges. Oof. Jenny hasn’t made a statement or anything about the arrest, probably because no one actually cares about what she has to say, or because it’s generally not a good idea to comment on pending litigation.
The crazy thing is that the whole point of being an influencer is that people are invested in your personal story, and there’s nothing that interesting about Jenny, other than how hard she and her family were allegedly scamming everyone. Like, sorry, but posing with a luxury car just is not that interesting. She also has a website, “jenbyjen”, which is supposed to be a “luxury blog”, I guess. Move over, Poosh! The website just says “coming soon,” but now I have a feeling it might not be so soon.
What’s the moral of this story? Before you post pictures of your Chanel bags on Instagram, make sure that they weren’t bought with money from international cargo bribes! Where does Jenny Ambuila rank on the all-time list of Insta-scammers? This whole thing is less impressive than the long-con of Anna Delvey, but Jenny was definitely better at the fake influencer lifestyle than some of these basic girls.
Images: Jenny Ambuila / Facebook (2); @jennylifestyler / Instagram; @jennylifestyler / Twitter; Jenbyjen.com