Beware the Real Estate Agent Hijacking Your Coachella Feed
Rami Atherton is a Beverly Hills realtor who fooled thousands into tagging their festival memories with his name.
As an estimated 99,000 Coachella revelers stumble home from the first weekend of the Indio-based music festival to relive the highlights on their Facebook and Instagram feeds, many are making a rude discovery.
Literally thousands of posts that were geo-tagged "Coachella — Weekend 1" now read a different location entirely: They read "Rami Atherton."
Clicking on Atherton's name reveals that he is a property agent with Nourmand & Associates, a real estate firm with offices in Hollywood, Brentwood and Beverly Hills.
Atherton's professional bio boasts that "growing up behind the gates of L.A.'s most coveted communities" has enabled him to "understand the dynamic ... and tailored lifestyle his clients identify with."
Apparently it has also taught him that no technique is too underhanded when it comes to siphoning attention in the cutthroat Los Angeles real estate market. The publicity scheme has left scores of Coachella-goers fuming.
"That is some sneaky s—," says Buzz Chatman, 42, a TV producer whose festival memories are now forever intertwined with someone who cites "an unparalleled level of discretion" as one of his key professional qualities. "It's a pain in the ass and I can't change them back so now his name is all over my timeline."
On Monday, Chatman issued a warning to friends in a Facebook Coachella group not to fall for the trick during Weekend 2. Someone else in the group then noticed that yet another fake location has already been set up by Atherton for the second half of the festival.
Soon dozens were sharing their own accounts of seeing Atherton's name pop up like a weed all over their social media feeds.
The kicker? Atherton himself stayed far away from the same event that was virtually wallpapered with his name.
"I'm really happy half of Los Angeles is going to Coachella," he says in a Facebook post. "No traffic for 3 whole days... #Proper #Option."
Reached by The Hollywood Reporter, Atherton counters that confused Facebook users were "tagging our group. We had about 100 people do that and I disconnected it because it was getting kind of obscene. People were tagging it that weren't in our group."
"I didn't realize it was a public group," Atherton continues. "I caught it this weekend and changed it."
Pressed as to whether or not the mix-up was actually a publicity stunt, Atherton responds, "No. Absolutely not."
Updated April 27: Nourmand & Associates has issued a statement to THR.
"Statement From Nourmand & Associates Regarding Coachella Facebook Post
Nourmand & Associates is aware of the reports regarding the Coachella-related Facebook post and our real estate agent Rami Atherton. “While we can't control what agents do on their free time, we have thoroughly investigated the situation and concluded that this was unintentional,” said Michael Nourmand, president of Nourmand & Associates. “We are taking action to ensure this doesn't happen again by issuing stricter social media policies.” Nourmand & Associates takes all allegations seriously and regret any inconvenience this incident may have caused. Nourmand & Associates has a 40-year history of integrity and are fully committed to maintaining the highest ethical standards. While our associates are independent contractors, we are highly selective about the agents we hire so we can ensure they meet our standards."