A PYMNTS Company

Italian Influencer and Cake Company Face Fraud Investigation

 |  January 9, 2024

Italian influencer Chiara Ferragni and popular pandoro cake-maker Balocco SpA find themselves under investigation by prosecutors for alleged aggravated fraud surrounding a special edition Christmas cake released in 2022.

Italy’s antitrust authority has already imposed hefty fines on both parties, with Ferragni slapped with a 1 million euro penalty and Balocco SpA facing a fine of 420,000 euros. The authority accuses Ferragni’s companies and Balocco of misleading consumers into believing that purchasing the “Pandoro Pink Christmas” cake would contribute to a donation to a Turin hospital.

Prosecutors in Milan, taking the matter seriously, have initiated an investigation into Ferragni and Balocco President Alessandra Balocco for their alleged role in aggravated fraud. This follows the antitrust authority’s findings that Balocco made a one-time donation of 50,000 euros to the Regina Margherita hospital in Turin in November 2022, before the launch of the Ferragni-branded cakes. However, no subsequent donations were reported.

Ferragni, a prominent fashion blogger turned influencer with a massive following of 29.5 million on Instagram, expressed confidence in the judicial process, stating that she believes the investigation will show her actions were in “good faith.” Meanwhile, Balocco SpA released a statement on Tuesday asserting their cooperation with prosecutors and their belief that they acted in “absolute good faith.”

The controversy has sparked a debate over the responsibility of influencers and companies in ensuring transparency when associating products with charitable initiatives. As the investigation unfolds, it raises questions about the potential impact on the trust consumers place in high-profile influencers and the companies they collaborate with.

Source: ABC News