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Reality star Alexis Bellino of "The Real Housewives of Orange County" is always happy to receive new fans and followers, but 30,000 in one day was enough to raise quite a few perfectly plucked eyebrows.
"I just answered a call from the company that is SELLING all the current #RHOC cast their Twitter followers, What a F'ing Joke!" Micah Tanous, former "Housewives" star, tweeted last week.
All eyes turned on Bellino after RumorFix.com consulted Twittercounter.com and found that the fashion designer and reality star had a jaw-dropping surge in traffic, prompting co-star Tamra Barney to tweet "once a fake and always a fake!" Heather Dubrow tweeted that it was "lame, but not surprising."
But Bellino isn't having it. The reality star told FXo411's Pop Tarts column exclusively that she would never pay to be popular.
"I have waited to respond regarding the recent 'bought Twitter fans' accusations because like many of you, I thought it was odd that my twitter account jumped 30,000 in a day, so I immediately hired a team of specialists to help determine what was happening," she told us. "I did not understand the meaning of buying fans, so it has taken me a few days to grasp exactly what occurred. Let me be very clear on this issue, neither myself nor members of my team have ever purchased a Twitter fan."
Bellino says someone or something had a hand at inflating and later deflating her account without her knowledge.
"What I have learned is that someone else can do this to my account, and it's very interesting how this chain of events has unfolded, and how certain people seem so knowledgeable and opinionated about what is happening to my account," she continued.
And according to the pros, Bellino could very well have been the a victim of a cyber-security breach.
“Based on my review of Alexis’ account, it appears that she may have been targeted by ‘bots,’ i.e. fake accounts for spamming purposes. This could be considered a ‘hack’ in the sense that a person can hire a bot service to do this to someone, but it’s not a hack in the traditional sense of someone taking over her account," explained Michael Gregg, COO of Superior Solutions. "This could be done to try to discredit Alexis or have her account blocked by Twitter. These bots will turn very quickly - your account can get bombarded by them in a short period of time and then see them disappear just as fast, once Twitter starts to target and remove these fake accounts. Judging by some of her followers, it appears there are a number of these fake accounts still attached to her Twitter feed.”
Chris Weber, co-founder of Casaba Security, and Mark Wuergler, senior security researcher at Immunity Inc. both concurred that the activity on her accounts are spam-bot related.
"I am told anyone can easily do to it anyone else without the use of passwords, usernames, or any other privileged information," Bellino told us.