Instagram scam: how your account is hacked

The next thing you know, your account is taken care of. You don’t have access to your photos or your account.

GREENSBORO, North Carolina —
Trevor Rose is one of the millions of people who have an Instagram account. Like most of us, he not only posts photos, but uses the social media app to chat with friends.

Unfortunately, a chat conversation he had with a known friend a few months ago resulted in his account being hacked.

It all started with this question from his friend:

I was trying to log into my Instagram account on my new phone and they ask me to find someone to help me get a help link and your name was randomly selected. Instagram will text you…ok?

“It would send that person a link that you would click on and verify that you know them,” Trevor Rose said.

When he clicked on the link, a page opened to enter his username and password.

“It was branded like the Instagram website, the logo, the verbiage, everything. Being a millennial, I should have known to look at the URL, the www, and make sure it has Instagram in it.
then I got blocked on my Instagram account,” Rose said.

It’s bad enough to be locked out of your account, with no access to your photos or information. The worst part is knowing that you can’t let everyone know that this conversation isn’t you.

“This person once they take over your account, they start posting stories to your account, stories and reels and sending your friends, family and colleagues messages impersonating you,” said Rose said.

Posts often include fake links to charities, investments, or accounts. Your contacts think they are helping you, but in reality, all the money is going to the scammer who has taken over your legitimate account.

It happens over and over again and you can’t stop it.

“It’s a parasite. With Instagram, every path they give you to recover your accounts, delete your accounts, nothing seems to work,” Rose said.

He followed all the steps on the Instagram Help Center page, but weeks went by with no help.

More and more of his friends and family were getting caught by the scammer posing as him, some even gave money to the scammer. It took two months before Instagram was able to give Trevor access to his account again.


“Unfortunately the reality is that social media companies are generally understaffed when it comes to serving users, remember, users are not customers, users are part of the product,” Joseph said. Steinberg, cybersecurity expert.

Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat and Twitter are free. Which means you are part of the product, not the profit.

“The most important thing anyone can do to protect their accounts, their social networks and their bank account is to beware. Suppose the criminals are out to catch you. If you assume you don’t have to act paranoid, but you won’t trust requests without checking them out and spending a second looking at them,” Rose said.


Do you receive a message that seems off? Text, call or contact the person on another platform and check what’s going on.

Get ahead of the scammers. Don’t just rely on your password. Use multi-factor authentication for each app login.

“Multi-authentication proves who you are using two types of factors. One might know a secret like a password, the other might be a fingerprint or some kind of biometrics. The third way would be something you you own, you know the secret and you have your phone, it’s safer than just using the password,” Steinberg said.

Many apps have their own multi-factor authentication, but for added security, you can get an authenticator app that will create additional protection for you every time you use an app.


They are free. Several technical sites have tested these applications. You can read the various tech writer reviews.

NY TIMES: Better 2-Factor Authentication

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