It was the morning after Christmas, and I picked up my phone to glance at Instagram. That was my first mistake. I was exhausted after days of eating, drinking, and socializing, so the last thing I should have done is visit the wild wild west of social media. I did and saw a message from Instagram:
We recently received a complaint about a post on your Instagram. Your post has been reported as infringing copyright. Your account will be removed if no objection is made to the copyrighted work. If you think this determination is incorrect, please fill out the appeal form from the link below.
It requested I input my email address and password.
In my morning stupor I panicked. As soon as I logged in, I realized what I had done, but it was too late. I was scammed. Not only was I scammed but I was now being blackmailed.
A scammer (we’ll call them SCAM) took over my account and put an image up on my Instagram story:
My daughter saw the story image and immediately messaged me. I told her I was hacked. She messaged SCAM, who replied:
“Tell the account owner to contact me if they want account.”
I logged into my dog’s account. Yes, my dogs have an IG account my daughter started years ago. I was able to message SCAM.
I wrote “I am the account owner. Who is this?”
SCAM: “If you want your account. I will give for a fee. $350.”
ME: “As if I can trust you!?!? How would I trust you would give it back.”
This back and forth went on for quite a while. I asked SCAM questions like, How old are you? Are you sure I can trust you? Do you promise you’ll give me the account back. I bombarded SCAM with questions and comments. I figured I have zero control over this, but I can try and make it interesting. Maybe I could make SCAM realize I’m a human being so I get my account back.
I realized I was not able to get into my account so I couldn’t do much else except report it to Instagram. And I knew from my Facebook account being hacked in the past that it may take months to get it back. I figured it was worth a shot. I’ll play along.
A few hours later I got back in touch with SCAM and said I’d pay half up front and half after I got the account back. Surprisingly SCAM agreed. I wired the $175. To my complete shock SCAM gave me back access to my account. I quickly went in and changed the password and tried to figure out how to block SCAM out. After a 30 minutes of me scrambling SCAM said if I didn’t pay the rest, they would take back the account. I didn’t see how. I changed all the log-ins. Moments later SCAM had control of the account and I was locked out … again.
I asked SCAM to promise they would give me the account back after I sent the rest of the money. I was in this far I may as well go all the way. I sent payment number 2. SCAM again gave me access to the account! I was actually shocked. Everything I read online about this sort of thing said kiss your account goodbye!
I immediately went into every setting in Instagram’s security settings and found that SCAM disabled Two-Factor Authentication and when you do this you can enable “Trust this Device.” SCAM was able to quickly log back into my account even when I changed the password. I deleted SCAM’s Trusted Device and SCAM quickly realized what I did. SCAM then said they were reporting ME to Instagram! Me!!! I mean you have to laugh at this point!
I told SCAM I was done playing and to please leave me alone. I never heard from SCAM again.
I view this as a great learning experience that cost me a few hundred bucks. Not only did I learn how to protect my social media and will be much more careful in the future, but I went through the exercise of securing my computer and went through all of my important accounts with new log-ins.
“Your enemy can be your best teacher” ~ Dalai Lama.
“When you know how to listen, everybody is the guru.” ~ Ram Dass
Here’s to a New Outlook in 2023!
Speaking of the Dalai Lama, if you haven’t seen the movie Mission: Joy- Finding Happiness in Troubled Times it’s a great watch.