State probing West Palm company over sale of fake Twitter followers

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is investigating allegations of identity theft by a West Palm Beach marketing firm that sells followers on Twitter, Facebook and other sites.

“If you or someone you know has had their identity stolen and used to create a fake social media profile on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or any other social media platform, please file a complaint with our office,” reads a page on Bondi’s website.

Related: Counterfeit Twitter empire in West Palm Beach

Bondi’s announcement comes after The New York Times reported Jan. 27 that Devumi and Bytion, two West Palm Beach-based companies, created phony accounts on Twitter and sold them to celebrities and companies looking to build their social media followings. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also opened an investigation.

In some cases, The Times reported, Devumi created phony accounts based on the photos and names of real people. In other instances, Devumi simply created phony Twitter accounts attached to no identifiable person, the paper said.

Devumi and Bytion are operated by German E. Calas Jr., a 27-year-old entrepreneur who claims a homestead exemption on a condo at CityPlace South Tower in West Palm Beach. His company website shows his Clematis Street office decked out with the usual accoutrements of a tech work space, including a ping pong table and a billiards table.

Calas couldn’t be reached for comment, and no one answered a knock on the door at Bytion’s office above Rocco’s Tacos.

Meanwhile, Bytion’s website lists two job openings in Denver. The Times reported Thursday that Calas’ company has moved its operations to Colorado.

Until The Times article, Calas had flown under the radar of media attention. Before last week, he hadn’t been mentioned in a single news story, according to the Nexis database.

Calas registered the website in October 2010, when he would have been about 20 years old, and began selling social media marketing services in 2011. A 2012 news release on marked one of Calas’ rare attempts to garner publicity.

“We strongly believe that individuals and small businesses shouldn’t struggle with social media,” Calas said in the news release. “We started our company to fill this gap by offering an affordable and quality service that makes sense. So for as low as $17, anyone can make a huge impact on their social media campaign with more Twitter followers, Facebook likes and YouTube views.”

In 2015, Devumi issued another news release saying it charged $19 to $499 a month for its Twitter services.

Apparently, business was good. Calas upgraded from a Volkswagen to an Audi, according to speeding tickets, one of which clocked him at 92 mph on Interstate 95. In late 2013, soon after he turned 23, Calas bought a $355,000 condo at CityPlace South Tower.

In 2016, he bought another unit at CityPlace South Tower, paying $803,000 and taking a mortgage for $417,000. Calas still owns both units, according to property records.

Calas’ business model was lucrative enough that it merited copying, according to a federal lawsuit. In the suit, Calas said he hired Ronwaldo Gayo Boado of the Philippines as a $500-a-month independent contractor in 2016.

In July 2017, Calas fired Boada for “inciting conflict between two other members” of Devumi’s team. Boada responded by hijacking the company gmail account and launching a competing site at, according to Calas’ suit.

Calas’ Miami attorney declined to comment. Neither the site nor the email address for the copycat were working on Friday.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in

Boards may act outside meeting by unanimous written consent

Question: Our board of directors recently entered into a complex insurance contract in accordance with a resolution apparently adopted by the board with no notice of any meeting. We were told that such action by resolution or written consent is consistent with the Florida Condominium Act and is permitted by the not-for-profit statute. No mention of...
Palm Beach County jobless rate falls to 12-year low
Palm Beach County jobless rate falls to 12-year low

The last time Palm Beach County unemployment plummeted this low, a condo craze was in full bloom, home prices were soaring and no one outside of Wall Street had heard of credit default swaps. Palm Beach County’s jobless rate hit a rock-bottom 3.3 percent in April, state economists said Friday. That was the lowest rate since 2006, when the region&rsquo...
Why you might want to download the mobile passport app
Why you might want to download the mobile passport app

Have you recently deplaned from an international flight at bustling Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and been stuck in the immigration and customs line while some people got pulled out and waved through? Yes, some were Global Entry folks (low-risk travelers who pay a fee), but many others had downloaded the free Mobile Passport Control...
7 tips for males who manage or mentor females
7 tips for males who manage or mentor females

It's a sensitive time in this #MeToo era. As Peter J. Strauss described it in Forbes, "Over the past few months, there has been an important and long overdue national conversation surrounding the topics of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior in the workplace."  And while the movement has generated massive positive change, "...
JUST IN: Brightline trains ‘nearly sold out’ for Miami opening weekend
JUST IN: Brightline trains ‘nearly sold out’ for Miami opening weekend

Tickets for Brightline’s first train trips to Miami this weekend are nearly sold out, and the company is bracing for large crowds at all of its south Florida stations. As of Thursday morning, tickets were still available on the 7 a.m. weekend trains departing West Palm Beach for the Miami station. There were also seats on the 9 p.m. Saturday...
More Stories