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Travel influencer sued by Travelers United for deceptive advertising

Travel influencer sued by Travelers United for deceptive advertising

Travelers United is suing travel influencer Cassandra De Pecol and her LLC Expedition 196 for unfair and deceptive advertising in violation of the District of Columbia’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA).

This is the first non-profit lawsuit against an influencer for deceptive advertising. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has not acted with haste in social media advertising enforcement, so Travelers United felt compelled to bring this private attorney general action in DC’s Superior Court.

“Travelers United is taking a stand against deceptive advertising on social media,” says Lauren Wolfe, Counsel for Travelers United.

“It is a violation of the law when influencers make up claims to grow their follower count. Additionally, it violates the law for influencers to push products and promote brands without disclosing they are being paid to do so. The toxic culture of undisclosed advertising and fake claims by influencers needs to end.”

Included in De Pecol’s false claims are the following:

  • De Pecol has falsely claimed she is the first woman to travel to every country. She is not the first woman to travel to every country.
  • De Pecol regularly advertises and promotes goods without disclosing she is being paid to promote those products.
  • De Pecol charges $4,500 for one Instagram post.

Additionally, De Pecol is potentially making up sponsorships that do not exist in reality for her to appear more interesting and adventurous than she actually is. De Pecol claims to be the “first sponsored astronaut to travel to space with Virgin Galactic.” No one at Virgin Galactic would confirm this claim. Made-up sponsorships have not been addressed by the FTC, but pretending a sponsorship exists when it does not is a violation of the District’s CPPA.

“Travelers United is concerned about the increasing prominence of travel influencers with false claims and deceptive sponsorships that are seeping into every aspect of American life,” adds Wolfe. “Meta, which owns Instagram, must take more proactive steps to remove disinformation from their platform.”

Travelers United demands a correction to all 325 Instagram posts and seven TikToks that are in violation of the FTC’s guidance on social media influencing and a removal of any reference of her being the first woman to travel to every country on all of her social media channels. We request that NBC and CNN retract their De Pecol articles. We strongly suggest Gillette Venus Razors, Quest Nutrition, Marriott Hotels, and GoDaddy correct their advertisements that include De Pecol or remove them entirely.

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