Alissa Violet, a YouTuber and influencer, has left fans frustrated and confused after they felt the results of a giveaway she promoted for Louis Vuitton handbags were not properly fulfilled. After weeks of silence from Violet, some people are calling the whole giveaway a ruse.
After BuzzFeed News reached out to Violet and the company behind the giveaway, one of the three winners — all of whom claim they were ghosted for weeks — suddenly received a direct message from the YouTuber about the designer prize. A representative for Cheek, the now-defunct sunglasses company that organized the sweepstakes with Violet, told BuzzFeed News that the winners should receive their prizes soon.
However, what has happened in the preceding weeks was perplexing enough that Violet's followers are accusing her of a scam.
We start on Aug. 25, when Violet, who has over 3.9 million subscribers on YouTube and 8.8 million followers on Instagram, shared a post with a caption that detailed how her followers could enter to win "free Louis Vuitton bags." The giveaway was in partnership with a company called Cheek.
To enter, Violet told her fans they would need to follow the company's account with the handle @Cheek and tag two friends in the comment section. She wrote that the winner would be announced that following Friday (Aug. 30).
In the days following the Instagram promotion, Violet changed her caption on the giveaway photo to "long day (announcing the winners friday)." She then changed it again to just "long day," which remains the current caption today.
YouTube gossip and "tea" channel Spill Sesh shared original screenshots of the caption in a recap video. BuzzFeed News also saw the original caption.
More confusion ensued when followers tried to follow the @Cheek handle, and realized it was a broken link. A spokesperson for Cheek told BuzzFeed News that the @Cheek handle had been suddenly disabled during the giveaway, causing the drama and "communication problems."
"It was very strange and made it difficult for us," they said.
So the company created a "backup account" called @CheekWins, where it shared a new set of instructions for the giveaway. According to Spill Sesh, it said in order for people to enter, they had to "follow everyone [@CheekWins] is following and tag 2 friends below."
A week later, in early September, three winners were finally announced via an Instagram story on the new @CheekWins account.
After that, Violet and Cheek went silent. All three announced winners told BuzzFeed News that they didn't receive their prizes. They also, until recently, had trouble reaching Violet and Cheek.
One of the winners, Vanessa Avila, 19, from California, told BuzzFeed News she has not yet received her Louis Vuitton bag and that "communication was awful" with Cheek.
"They were short with me, never answered my questions fully, and took hours or days to reply to my DMs," said Avila. Cheek told BuzzFeed News it had trouble contacting Avila about her prize.
Avila then tried DM'ing Violet to inquire about her free handbag with no luck.
The teen tried to follow up with Cheek once again on Sept. 2 to ask if she would be getting her prize, and she received a response the next day. The company said her prize would be "shipped Wednesday" (Sept. 4).
However, as of Oct. 8, Avila has still not received her prize.
Neither Violet nor her team responded to BuzzFeed News' inquiries about the issue. However, Violet finally messaged Avila back on Instagram on Oct. 8. Avila told BuzzFeed News that Violet had said her bag had shipped "two weeks ago."
Cheek told BuzzFeed News that Avila should finally receive her bag by the end of this week. As for the other two winners, the company said, they were disqualified because they are too young and/or are not US citizens.
To make things weirder, the spokesperson said that Cheek, which was supposed to be a sunglasses line, has since been "scrapped" as a company. So there's that.
In the meantime, those who have been following the confusing saga have been commenting on Violet's original Instagram post and the @CheekWins account. They are joking about the situation and claiming that Violet and Cheek were "scamming" followers this whole time.
Cheek denies the poorly organized effort was a scam.
"The giveaway with Alissa Violet was definitely not [a] scam and ruse,” the company said before thanking BuzzFeed News for "looking into it."