Long Island woman warns of Instagram hackers

NEW YORK — Colette Lee Morales depends on her social media accounts for a living. This is where she posts information about her fitness and hairdressing activities. With 5,000 followers, she also uses it to promote charities important to her and her community. Now, thanks to a hacker, this account is under attack.

“I’m not a huge influencer or anything, but I have a network that means a lot to me,” Morales told PIX11 News.

Earlier this week, Morales received a direct message from an Instagram follower urging him to vote for that follower in a random contest. She said she genuinely believed the person was who “she” claimed to be and wanted to help.

When the link didn’t work, the person asked for Morales’ cell phone number, which she – reluctantly – gave. This “follower” turned out to be a hacker.

“Instantly you are notified that your Instagram was being used elsewhere,” Morales said. “They’re fast and they’re able to kick you out of anything in seconds.”

After changing the password, the hacker – who looks no older than a teenager – brazenly called Morales by video and demanded a ransom, paid in Bitcoin, for her to get the password. New Password. Morales begged the hacker to do the right thing, and the hacker said he wouldn’t…unless he got paid.

Morales isn’t the only one. His good friend Buddy Casimano was also hacked several weeks ago in exactly the same way. The professional choreographer received a direct message allegedly from one of his thousands of followers, asking for a vote in a contest.

“People kept saying I was hacked, but I was hacked,” Casimano said. “There is someone playing my role. they hijacked my personality.

It’s probably no small coincidence that this happened to Morales and Casimano, who follow each other on Instagram. Both believe that once a hacker takes over an account, they send direct messages to all of that person’s followers, anticipating that you’re more likely to open a link or give information if they come from someone you think you know.

“It’s not always a stranger, it can be someone you know who you get a link from, who you get an email from,” Keith Strassberg said. COO of Cybersafe Solutions. “Don’t just blindly click on it, you have to ask yourself ‘does this make sense? “”

While Casimano was able to regain control of her account, without paying the ransom, Morales did not and she hopes Instagram or its parent company, Meta, will step in and help her. Until then, she speaks out to protect others.

“It literally happens to people every day, and I think people really need to trust their feelings. When something seems off, don’t click on any foreign links,” Morales said.

PIX11 contacted Meta, which owns both Facebook and Instagram, but received no response.

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