Image via Shutterstock

A travel blogger with nearly a million Instagram followers has been receiving flak for an Instagram-growth course that’s being described as a “scam” by participants.

Aggie Lal, who goes by the Instagram handle @travel_inhershoes, charged participants US$497 for a 12-week course titled How to grow your Instagram. According to her blog called the Aggie Tribe, Lal would reveal to her “Master Tribe” the “behind the scenes of going from being a broke traveler to becoming a six figure earning travel blogger” inside this course.

Participants would also receive information about “running a business that’s location independent so you can have the lifestyle you want.” Students would learn about social media techniques, as well as skills related to photography, video, and business.

Lal explained the hefty price tag, saying, “I wanted the price to be a little ‘painful’ so it feels like an investment and will discourage people who are not serious about blogging as their future to participate. I hope the price will return in a small group of super driven & committed community that is willing to do what it takes to kill it in this industry.”

BuzzFeed News reported that she had earned a total of US$188,860 from the course, which had 380 students.

Those who enrolled, however, found the course to be disappointing, with some going so far as to call it a “scam.” One of the participants published the bad experience on Medium with the title I Was Scammed by a Celebrity Influencer.

The self-proclaimed “Wannabe Influencer” revealed that Lal had not only “disappeared” halfway through the course, supposedly due to poor WiFi, but also challenged participants to get more people to join the course. The post on Medium describes the program as a “pyramid scheme.”

Participant Juliet Hatley added that the course materials were less than impressive, where videos shown were barely five minutes long, with Lal making inappropriate comments that supposedly turned some people off.

For instance, Lal would advise her students on how to avoid looking pregnant while posing for a photo, and commented that people who worked at Starbucks “[weren’t] living up to their potential.” Hatley said the content that Lal provided comprised information you could find from Google Search and that the course wasn’t worth US$497.

Following the backlash, Lal provided a statement through her Instagram, saying, “It breaks my heart to have let you down like this, it was certainly never my intention! I was heartbroken because this course was my baby, which I’ve been working on since June. It took me and my team months to create almost 9 hours of video classes. I want sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart to who anyone who feels like what I shared wasn’t enough.”

She also offered full refunds to those who felt disappointed with her course.

[BuzzFeed News, opening image via Shutterstock]

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