Lady Gaga fans are a curious crew of tenacious loyalists who also have a tendency to be the worst. According to BuzzFeed, some of the more organized Little Monsters proliferated a Starbucks scam to boost the position of “Shallow” on the Billboard Hot 100 in an attempt to get the A Star Is Born hit above its position at No. 21 and push Ariana Grande’s thank u, next hits down a peg.
With the help of Photoshop, Gaga fans posted on social media about a “contest” called “#Shallowbucks” which promised users a free beverage of their choice should they post proof of streaming “Shallow” on Spotify or Apple Music. Some even edited a fake DM between themselves and Starbucks as “proof” of the contest.
BuzzFeed learned the original creator of the scam was a Las Vegas-based, 18-year-old college freshman and graphic design student named Nico, who told the publication:
“Well since rumors of ‘Shallow’ possibly going number one on Billboard started I knew I had to do something to help her out with sales and streams but I didn’t know just what to do at first. Then one day when I was going home from school I passed by a Starbucks and got the idea last minute lol.
Within the first hour there were 2000 to 3000 tweets with the hashtag #SHALLOWBUCKS. That’s when I realized a ton of people actually fell for it. I actually wish I came up with the idea sooner so Gaga would get more streams since I posted it only like 2 or 3 hours before the tracking week for streams ended.”
A Starbucks customer service Twitter account has been responding to individuals on the platform with the message, “Hello! This is a fake offer and not valid at Starbucks. We are investigating to determine how this fake post was created and circulated. Thank you,” but Nico claims the coffee giant has yet to reach out to him directly:
“When I tweeted it I was honestly really worried since I don’t know if I could get into any legal trouble but I thought since nobody is losing any money doing it, it should be ok. I don’t think really care enough to look into it honestly... I do feel bad, but at the same time if Gaga does get number 1 it’ll all be worth it lol.”
The A Star Is Born soundtrack hit number one over the weekend—the album’s fourth, nonconsecutive, week at top the chart—but it’s unlikely Nico was actually onto something. It’s much more probable that Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s exceptionally horny Oscar performance bolstered sales and streams, but a fan can dream. Either way, I’d suggest Nico stop posting memes about how he’s going to go to prison? And that Starbucks is on to him? Yikes.