With Hulu’s new documentary about Fyre Fest out (and Netflix’s own on the way), everyone’s obsession with scammers and grifters is bubbling back up to the surface. In the process, one story about an Instagram influencer accused of scamming her followers out of thousands of dollars is getting a lot of attention.
Toward the end of December, a Twitter thread about influencer Caroline Calloway went viral. Calloway had offered $165 tickets for an intimate workshop, where she would teach skills and talk about her life, bringing along goodies that include a free salad, notebook, and stickers. The thread listed out the sketchier side of her planning, as she took back many of her initial promises, and accused her of orchestrating a scam.
But in an interview with BuzzFeed News, Calloway claims the workshop series wasn’t a scam, but the result of extremely poor planning. “I said I didn’t plan this because I’m dumb, but that’s not true,” she told BuzzFeed. “I didn’t plan well because I didn't know. I would be dumb if I did it again like this.”
The workshops were scheduled to take place in cities across the U.S., including New York, D.C., Boston, Denver, Philadelphia, and more. She also scheduled an international tour. But as the events neared, Calloway took back promises of handwritten notes and salad, booking last minute venues or canceling altogether. “I wanted to create an experience that would be my perfect weekend day, with cozy acoustic music and a plant-filled space,” she told BuzzFeed News. “If I had known how hard it was, I never would've tried.”
After the Twitter thread by journalist Kayleigh Donaldson went viral, Calloway canceled the rest of her events and told potential attendees their tickets will be refunded.
BuzzFeed’s feature by Katie Notopoulos shows the real story might be somewhere between scam and mistake, as some fans who attended the events defended Calloway. Donaldson also wrote a story about the whole ordeal, fleshing out the reporting done in her thread.
Read both and decide for yourself.