• Tue. May 28th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

Ronaldo vs Messi: The sportspeople with the highest percentage of fake followers revealed

ByVanessa Lima

Dec 15, 2022

Amid the recent news that Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first person ever to reach 500 million followers on Instagram, new data has revealed that over a quarter (25.16%) of his followers are fake.

That’s according to new research by Scams.info. In this study, the experts utilised Instagram analytical tool, Modash.io, to discover the percentage of fake followers held by the most followed sportspeople on Instagram.

The results:

Rank Sportsperson Total number of Instagram followers Estimated fake followers Percentage of fake followers
1 LeBron James 136,700,000 35,774,390 26.17%
2 Cristiano Ronaldo 495,400,000 124,642,640 25.16%
3 Gareth Bale 48,300,000 11,891,460 24.62%
4 Karim Benzema 60,400,000 14,737,600 24.40%
5 Marcelo Vieira 59,400,000 14,125,320 23.78%
6 Paul Labile Pogba 55,700,000 13,173,050 23.65%
7 Sergio Ramos 53,800,000 12,583,820 23.39%
8 Lionel Messi 372,000,000 86,638,800 23.29%
9 David Beckham 75,800,000 17,623,500 23.25%
10 Zlatan Ibrahimovic 56,200,000 12,999,059 23.13%

Please find the full data set attached here.

LeBron James is estimated to have the highest percentage of fake followers

Scams.info can reveal that basketballer LeBron James dominates the table with an estimated 26.17% of fake followers (35,774,390), over a quarter of his audience on the platform. LeBron James is Athletic.com’s second best basketballer of all time, only trailing behind Michael Jordan.

In second place is footballer Cristiano Ronaldo with 25.16% of his Instagram followers estimated to be fake (124,642,640), over a quarter of his audience on the platform. This is 44% more estimated illegitimate followers than Ronaldo’s biggest rival, Lionel Messi with 86,638,80023.29% of his total followers.

Gareth Bale places third with 24.62% of his Instagram followers estimated to be fake (11,891,460).This is 0.22% more than his ex Real Madrid teammate, Karim Benzema, in fourth place with24.40% of his 60,400,000 estimated to be fake.

Nicholas Crouch from Scams.info has provided the following comment regarding how to keep your personal information safe from scammers and bot accounts on Instagram:

“Spam bots, or fake accounts are automated profiles that manipulate real-life behaviour by following, liking and connecting with other users. Bots threaten online security, making it harder to see how many real humans engage with your content.

Turning on two-factor authentication is also a great way to keep your account protected, as a code is required if there’s a login attempt from an unrecognised account. Lastly, installing CAPTCHA on your website is a great security method and super effective in preventing bots and scammers. 

Always ignore unexpected messages and avoid clicking on any links. The quicker these accounts are reported, the quicker Instagram is able to deactivate bot accounts!”


  1. Scams.info were keen to find out the sportspeople with the highest number of fake followers on Instagram.
  2. To do this, a seed list of the most followed sportspeople on Instagram was generated from Sacnilk.com’s list.
  3. Celebrities’ Instagram handles were analysed by Modash.io’s fake follower tool to generate an estimated percentage of fake accounts of the account’s following.
  4. The estimated amount of fake accounts was subtracted from the respective account’s total follow to produce an estimated ‘fake followers’.
  5. Sportspeople were ranked in descending order by their total number of fake followers.