An Instagram picture which appeared to show the Prime Minister's son Max Key with a suspected felon turned out to be a teenage hoax.

Max Key this week posted a picture online of himself at a golf course with whom he claimed was Dan Bilzerian, an American trust fund beneficiary, poker player and part-time actor who is facing criminal charges in the US.

"Having a hack with @danbilzerian", the photograph's caption says.

The picture fooled a few observers, including the Herald, TVNZ and others.

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Commenters on the Instagram picture ranged from confused - "Is that him?" - to disgusted.

Kiwi singer Lorde expressed her distaste below the photograph: "Bleugh".

The bearded person is actually a friend of Max's who has a strikingly similar appearance to Bilzerian.

The photograph appears to have been taken in Hawaii, where Max's father John Key owns a holiday home on the island of Maui.

The real Bilzerian gained fame for posting pictures of his extravagant guns-and-women lifestyle online, which has earned him the nickname "King of Instagram".

US media has reported that he is facing charges of attempting to make a bomb, and is being investigated by police for allegedly kicking a woman in the face at a Miami nightclub.

Last summer, Max Key took part in his father's round of golf with US President Barack Obama in Hawaii.