This Instagrammer Faked His Lavish Lifestyle, And Thousands Of Followers Fell For The Lie

Images: YouTube/byron / Instagram/tbhbyron

Byron Denton is a pretty big deal in the YouTube world. So when he began to post pictures of his outrageously lavish lifestyle online, his thousands of Instagram followers presumably just thought he’d hit the big time as an influencer. Little did Denton’s fans know, however, he was purposefully trying to mislead them.

Image: Instagram/rkoi

Since Instagram’s rise to prominence in the the early 2010s, the platform has given us a window into many different worlds. In particular, it has allowed us to see just how the other half live. Indeed, it’s given us an insight into the lives of the rich and famous. And whether they’re flaunting their private jets or lavish parties, us commoners seem to lap their posts up.

Image: Instagram/rkoi

The world’s interest in the luxurious lifestyles of others is so strong that there’s even an Instagram page dedicated to the so-called “Rich Kids of the Internet.” And a quick scroll through the account reveals a world full of fast cars, designer garb and far flung destinations. It’s little wonder, then, that the page has managed to attract 365,000 followers.

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But let’s face it, almost anything looks better with one of Instagram’s famous filters slapped over it. And by sharing just a few carefully curated snapshots from the day or week, it’s easy to create a certain image that isn’t quite true to life. That’s why we should always take the lifestyles portrayed on Instagram with a pinch of salt.

Image: Instagram/tbhbyron

One person who knows just how easy it is to create an Instagram illusion is YouTuber Byron Denton. The teen is known for his tbhbyron channel, where he posts vlogs on a number of subjects. And thanks to his original content, the Brit has managed to clock up close to three million views.

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One of Denton’s most popular uploads to date landed on his channel in February 2019. And within less than three months, it had racked up over a million views. The upload was simply called, “I faked being a rich b**** on Instagram for a week and this is what happened…” And it proved to be a massive hit online.

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Image: Instagram/tbhbyron

The video documented Denton’s attempts to gain more followers on Instagram by faking a luxurious lifestyle. He later revealed the experiment was inspired by his fellow YouTubers, one of whom – George Mason – had faked a week-long vacation while barely stepping foot out of his bedroom.

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Image: YouTube/GeorgeMasonTV

In order for Mason to pull off his scam, then, he thought hard about the destinations he would “visit” during his “trip.” The YouTuber eventually settled on faking a jaunt across five countries in Europe. And it would all start in Spain, where his family happened to be spending the New Year. But sadly for them, he actually had no intention of stopping by.

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Image: YouTube/GeorgeMasonTV

So, to set the scene, Mason first tweeted his followers to tell them he’d booked a “spontaneous” vacation. In order to convince them he really had jetted off, though, he planned to post at least three Instagram stories per day. In addition, he’d upload one photo from each country to his grid. And they’d all feature famous landmarks to make his vacation look as realistic as possible.

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Image: YouTube/GeorgeMasonTV

Although Mason admitted that he felt bad lying to his followers, he put his whole weight behind the prank. First, he uploaded a snap of his empty suitcase to his instagram stories. The idea was for fans to assume this was the luggage the YouTuber was taking on his trip. But little did they know that neither he, or his baggage, would actually be leaving the country.

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Image: YouTube/GeorgeMasonTV

Instgram stories that appeared to be from the airport soon followed. Mason then informed his followers he’d arrived in Spain with a geotagged snap. He also uploaded a video with a Spanish TV show playing in the background, so that his fans could be in little doubt where he was. The YouTuber then used Snapchat’s map feature to help with the ruse. How? By lifting other users’ uploads direct from the country and passing them off as his own.

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After Mason photoshopped himself into a view of Alicante, the Spanish leg of his fake trip was complete. The YouTuber’s next stop was France, and to make it look like he’d arrived in a new country he doctored images of croissants, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. Furthermore, he even faked New Year’s celebrations in the City of Lights.

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Next, Mason faked stops in Amsterdam, Rome and Mykonos. After that, though, he confessed his prank to his followers in the form of a vlog. In the video, posted to his YouTube channel in January 2019, he revealed to his followers “how easy it really is to manipulate your audience online and fake your life.”

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Explaining the inspiration behind the prank, Mason said, “I saw this article a few weeks ago about this Instagram model who’d been exposed for Photoshopping her photos to [put her in] other places than she actually was. The Instagram lifestyle is so hyped up, and for most people it’s their dream.”

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However, thanks to Mason’s fake vacation, he’d learned about the darker side of social media. “Initially, the whole idea of this video was to see if I could prank you guys. However, when I started doing the video I actually became aware of how easy this actually is, and how scary that actually is,” he said.

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This ability to use Instagram to produce a fake representation of yourself was seemingly something that resonated with Denton. So he decided that he’d also use Instagram to embellish his lifestyle a little. The YouTuber wasn’t interested in fooling people into thinking he’d taken a vacation, though. He just wanted people to believe that he was filthy rich.

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With that in mind, Denton set about planting himself outside places where a wealthy person may hang out. And where better to start than a Louis Vuitton store? To make sure he documented his trip, the YouTuber had his photograph taken outside the designer spot so he could share it with his followers later.

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The only problem was that, upon reviewing the photo, it became clear to Denton that it didn’t look as though he’d spent a dime at Louis Vuitton. His lack of shopping bags made that fact all too obvious. So, he used editing software and cut some bulging bags out of a picture of Jaden Smith. Then, he added them to his own snap. At which point, it was it good to go.

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To reinforce Denton’s prank, he also uploaded a series of snaps to his Instagram story. In one of them, he warned his followers, “I’m about to spend way too much money in this place, help!” And many fans appeared to fall for his fake shopping spree hook, line and sinker. As a result, the doctored image of the YouTuber outside Louis Vuitton would eventually earn almost 9,000 likes.

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Denton’s next upload as part of the scam was a carefully prepared shot of himself modeling a pricey Balenciaga T-shirt. In actual fact, the YouTuber had been wearing a plain black top, and had merely edited one of the fashion house’s designs on top. He wasn’t about to tell his followers that, though.

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Apparently, it was important for Denton to portray himself as a dedicated follower of designer fashion. So, in his next Instagram post, he sported Balenciaga shoes and a belt by trendy streetwear brand Off-White. In this case, though, he actually did own the designer items in the picture. Coincidentally, the snap proved extremely popular, clocking up 11,000 likes in a matter of hours.

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Around this time, Denton realized he’d attracted 1,400 new followers to his Instagram page in just three days. As a result, it was then that the YouTuber decided he would up the ante by trying to fool his fans into thinking that he was on a private jet. To pull this off, he found a picture of someone else enjoying the high life. And from there, he went about trying to edit himself into their shot.

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Given the tricky angle of the plane seat, Denton spent 90 painstaking minutes attempting to Photoshop himself into the image. However, his efforts paid off. Before long he had crafted an image which made it look like his was relaxing on a jet, when in fact he’d barely left his living room.

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To make Denton’s private jet experience more believable, he also tracked down some Snapchat footage of someone on a plane. He then removed the existing audio and provided his own voiceover to make it seem like he was enjoying the ride. Once uploaded to his Instagram story, the video proved so realistic that even some of the YouTuber’s friends bought it.

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For Denton’s final post before coming clean, he decided he would go out with a bang. However, despite his prior private jet post, the YouTuber decided against editing himself into a shot of some exotic location. In a bid to make his prank ring true, he instead decided to go with a simple outfit shot, but with a twist.

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While Denton was wearing shoes from Balenciaga in his original photograph, he decided the shot needed to be even more fashion. So, he once again edited himself into a Balenciaga T-shirt, to make it look as if he’d spent a fortune on his outfit. Then the YouTuber posted the snap on Instagram and awaited the reaction from his followers.

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Once again, the photo got Denton way more attention than his usual outfit posts, particularly the ones that didn’t include any designer garments. As a result, it seemed likely that the more cash you flaunt on Instagram, the more popular your page becomes. And that, to the YouTuber, was extremely interesting.

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That’s because Denton hadn’t set out to fool his followers into thinking he was rich just to boost his own profile. Instead, he had manipulated his posts as some kind of “social experiment.” Moreover, the YouTuber wanted to see how faking a wealthy lifestyle changed the way people interacted with his page.

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Denton later came clean about his prank in a confessional video which he posted to YouTube in February 2019. In it, he explained, “I’ve seen so many videos of people faking vacations and faking a bunch of different things. However, I didn’t see anyone on Instagram pretend to be rich… At least not honestly, because I feel like a lot of people get rich by doing this.”

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Revealing the experiment’s findings, Denton explained, “Wearing designer in your photos does in fact engage people a lot more, which is really weird. I never really thought about it.” He added, “A lot of the photos and a lot of the Instagram stories got a lot more views and likes than normal. Which either means people were like, ‘Wow, damn sis! This guy’s rich. I’ll like his photos!’ Or people were sending it to their friends saying, ‘Is this boy for real?’”

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Denton then revealed that some of his followers were sceptical about his new-found wealth. However, many of them simply lapped his posts up. “I think three people commented on my photo saying that I was doing the ‘fake vacation’ thing after I posted the photo of me in the jet,” he said. “Then a lot of people were just commenting stuff like, ‘Byron, when did you get so rich?’”

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Over the course of Denton’s week-long experiment, he found his Instagram followers increased. In addition, he received thousands of likes and comments on his fake posts. The YouTuber even scored 700 likes in just seven seconds and 300 followers in two hours at one point. Commenting on the prank’s success, he said, “The fact that I went from this to this, just really shows you that anything is possible.”

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Denton’s vlog about his experiment soon went viral, and some of his followers revealed that they had been duped into thinking he was rich. “Holy s*** you had me fooled,” Joey Kidney wrote on YouTube. “I thought you won the lottery and went full boujee on us.” Meanwhile, Oisín M. Kenny added, “Girl, I was thinking ‘Jesus, when did Byron get so rich? I need to get a job at Urban Outfitters too.’ LMAO.”

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However, Denton’s prank soon gained attention far beyond his usual audience. As a result, the story was later picked up by the likes of the Daily Mail and LadBible. The YouTuber also gave an interview to Insider, in which he revealed more about the reaction his prank received.

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Explaining the inspiration behind the experiment, Denton told Insider, “I saw a lot of people faking holidays and stuff. But I thought it would be cool to take a different approach.” He added, “I’d always wondered if the reason people are so obsessed with celebrities was due to the fact they can afford to live a life not everyone can.”

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Denton revealed he’d used the PicsArt and Facetuneapps to edit his photos, before recoloring them on Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. On average he claimed he spent 45 minutes on each Instagram upload, taking both editing and shooting into account. And while that might have seemed excessive, the effort certainly paid off.

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Denton also told Insider that his lavish posts had even managed to trick some of his nearest and dearest into believing he’d gotten rich. “I had a lot of messages from my friends asking how I was affording all the designer stuff. And [I got] a lot of comments from my followers asking if I’d won the lottery or something,” he revealed.

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But not all of the reactions Denton received in relation to his prank were positive. After he came clean on YouTube and subsequently went viral, the social media star received a torrent of abuse. He was branded “shallow” and even told that he “needs a good slap” by those unimpressed by his fake posts. However, the vlogger was able to brush off the abuse in a lighthearted way.

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Reflecting on the experiment, Denton said he was “shocked” by how easy it had been to convince people that he was rich. He added, “[It] made me question everyone’s moves on social media… Do a lot of the high-profile bloggers these days actually make their way to the top by being honest or do they fake some of it?”

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And Denton’s fellow YouTuber Mason agreed that we should perhaps not take everything we see online at face value. During his phoney vacation video from January 2019, he warned, “Anyone can fake their lives online with the likes of Instagram and Snapchat and Snapchat maps. I guess the moral of this video, if you take anything from it, is just be careful online. Don’t believe everything you see. Because it is very easy to be deceitful online.”

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