ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Targeting the vulnerable is an effective strategy for scammers. For many bad actors, the ideal victim is someone that is already in a stressful situation, and they prey upon their desperation with an overwhelmingly high success rate.
With the birth of social media, we as a society have found a way to socialize and connect in a whole new way. No longer do we need to meet in public forums to talk to each other, share updates about our lives, and meet new people. On social media, we can do all of this in the no matter where we are in the world, and it has become an extension of who we are as a person.
Social media accounts can be deeply personal. We spend hours on these apps, uploading images, talking to our friends, and consuming a wide-range of content. Instagram to us is what the public forum was to the Romans.
My point is, our social media accounts (for many people) are extremely important to us culturally, whether we like it or not.
If someone was to lose access to that public forum, they lose access to hundreds of connections. They can’t see what their peers are up to, and they can’t share what is happening with them. If you lose your Instagram account, you may start to feel disconnected from your clique, and the social consequences can be real and devastating.
Instagram scams are incredibly common. Users lose access to their account to scammers everyday, and Meta, Instagram’s parent company, is notoriously slow to give them back - if they give them access back at all.
During that time, users can start to feel desperate. They create second accounts and start rebuilding their follow-list. They craft a post explaining that their account was hacked, and that this is their new account.
After that post, a different kind of scam comes into play. The account recovery scam is running recklessly on Instagram, and Instagram flat out refuses to do anything about it as they ignore reports on these fraudulent accounts.
I have personally reported these accounts, after DMing them personally and verifying that they are indeed running a scam, and months have gone by without any action taken on the accounts in question.
Here’s how the scam works:
- The scammer searches for hashtags such as #hacked or #lostaccount
- The scammer messages the individuals that posted these hashtags, claiming they are a hacker and can give them their account back, for a fee.
- The victim pays the scammer (normally in crypto)
- The scammer blocks the user after they receive payment.
There is no such thing as “account recovery hackers”, yet if you search for #accountrecovery on Instagram, you can see thousands of accounts advertising that they do just that.
They are all, 100% of them, a scam. The only way you can get your account back is by contacting Instagram and going through their very slow process. Since the process takes such a long time, many users feel like they have been forgotten about (which can indeed happen) and begin to look for alternatives. These scammers offer the perfect, yet fraudulent, solution to their problem.
I have reached out to Meta for comment over a month ago, yet they still have yet to respond.
Since it is clear that no changes are going to be made to Instagram any time soon, it is important that you stay educated on these scams and inform your friends/family about how they work.