Earlier this summer, nearly a dozen Kuwaiti social-media influencers—some with millions of Instagram followers—had their passports seized and assets frozen by Kuwait’s public-prosecutor’s office following charges of money-laundering. The country’s state security agency suspects that influencers may have laundered upward of the equivalent of $100 million in suspicious funds—a massive amount for what are essentially brash kids shilling fancy lipsticks and luxe laundry detergents.

The influencers—including Halima Bouland, a Kuwaiti television presenter; Dana Al Tuwarish, an Iraqi-Kuwaiti fashion specialist; and Farah Al Hady, a “stateless” cosmetics mogul—were allegedly recruited by Gulf-based organized criminal networks involved in drug and alcohol rackets.