Italian Influencer Chiara Ferragni Was Accused of Fraud and Watched Her Career Unravel

“Ferragni apologized and said she would donate 1 million euros to the Regina Margherita Hospital in Turin" — but she never did.

Brandon Charles - Author

Apr. 12 2024, Published 11:35 a.m. ET

Chiara Ferragni attends the "Che Tempo Che Fa" TV show on March 3, 2024
Source: Getty Images

Italy’s biggest influencer is losing some of her influence. Due to a scandal that just won’t go away, Chiara Ferragni's fraud has decimated her following and possibly helped lead to a divorce.

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The very successful blogger, businesswoman, and model has enjoyed more than a decade of success, partnering with luxury brands like Nespresso, Pantene, and Steve Madden. She appeared on high-profile magazine covers like Vogue and fashion related TV shows like Project Runway. She even had her own Barbie! Chiara appeared to be a marketing genius. Then she messed with dessert.

Chiara Ferragni attends the CNMI Sustainable Fashion Awards 2023 on Sept. 24, 2023
Source: Getty Images
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Chiara Ferragni's fraud involved a popular dessert and lying about charity donations.

Somehow, someway, cakes may be the main reason for Chiara’s fall from massively popular influencer to relatively popular influencer. The pandoro-gate scandal will just not go away.

Chiara partnered with Italian food company Balocco in 2022 to market a Chiara-branded Balocco pandoro, a cake-like dessert popular during Christmastime. The cakes cost 9 euros, which is 4–5 euros more than a typical Balocco pandoro. The markup was solely because Chiara was associated with it. But the price hike was warranted, or at least that’s the way it was marketed.

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The actual scandal comes from promises that proceeds were going to charity. When the cakes were released, customers thought proceeds would be donated to a Turin hospital, but they weren't. That’s pretty much the entire scandal. An influencer used her influence to sell marked-up cakes alluding that the proceeds were going to charity. Chiara got caught and was fined 1 million euros by Italy’s anti-trust authority.

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On Jan. 8, 2024, the AP reported, “Ferragni apologized and said she would donate 1 million euros to the Regina Margherita Hospital in Turin to give 'concreteness' to her apology, but she said she would challenge the fine itself. Italy’s anti-trust agency also fined Balocco 420,000 euros for giving consumers the impression that part of the earnings from sales of the cakes would benefit the Turin hospital."

The influencer did donate money, it was just a month before the cakes went on sale and far, far less than what was thought. "In reality, the agency said, Balocco had donated 50,000 euros before the campaign launched in November 2022 and made no additional donations.”

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Chiara Ferragni attends the Lancome X Louvre photocall as part of Paris Fashion Week on Sept. 26, 2023
Source: Getty Images

Based on TikTok posts about pandoro-gate, the majority of the anger comes from Chiara not exactly telling the truth. If the influencer is just taking the money, how are we supposed to believe an influencer? And if we can’t believe an influencer, who can we believe?

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Is the timing of Chiara’s divorce related to pandoro-gate?

Quite a few TikTokers think the union between Chiara and her rapper husband Fedez is ending because of this scandal. Or at least a little bit because of this scandal.

The model and rapper share two young children. Fedez has been sharing Instagram posts of himself and his brood enjoying sunny Miami skies.

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Chiara is also sharing photos of herself under sunny skies, just on the other side of the globe. She has been enjoying Dubai, which is only 7,824 miles from Miami.

If you’re wondering why an Italian influencer would want to spend some time in Dubai, you might want to read the Jan. 11, 2024 piece in Esquire Middle East, “Dubai will pay you to be an influencer (AED150 million).” While Chiara’s posts in Dubai don’t have the #ad hashtag, it wouldn’t be surprising if the person with 29.1 million followers may be getting paid to be there.

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