There is truly nothing worse than the feeling of having years worth of work and memories get erased instantly. This was what happened when my account was hacked, which the result of a phishing scam, and ultimately my fault because I was naive enough to fall for it.
That part made it even worse, though it is true that the people who do these scams are good at what they do!
I had recently applied for verification with Instagram, that verification badge that everyone hopes to get. So when an email came into my inbox about having my verification approved, I was over the moon excited. This was already an awful day, I had just had the discussion about putting my sick dog down later that week with my husband, I had been crying and I was in a total fog. I was trying to get my work day started when the email came into my inbox. I fell for it hook, line and sinker when the scammer sent me an email about verification, asking me to take a picture of myself holding my id, and a copy of my Instagram id and password written on the paper. The email looked legit and when I glanced (had I looked closer I would have seen it was a gmail) at my gmail inbox, it appeared the sender was from instagram as that was the name that popped up from the sender…
Again, I was totally naive and fell for it hook line and sinker because if I had looked closer I would have seen it was a gmail address. That’s what happens, you put your guard down and the next thing you know, your online identify is stolen just like that!
A few hours later I went to log into my account, expecting to see a blue verification mark by my name. What happened was totally different. I no longer existed in the world of instagram. When I went to log in, it says “user does not exist”. What?
Here lies the problem. Now that my user name had been changed by the hacker/account thief- I no longer had any way to even contact Instagram to report the issue because I no longer had an account. The hacker had logged in, changed the name and the password and ultimately the user name. He was now working on transferring my account to someone else.
I began to get emails from Facebook/Instagram saying my password had been changed. There is a message that says, if you did not request this change click here – this is where you can supposedly revert this change. At this point, this also didn’t work for me. It was too late.
If you still have access to your account, you can hit the button underneath the login page to attempt to get in touch with support. However, because I no longer had access to the account, I couldn’t do this and had to do this via my other instagram account. There is a place where you can submit a response to let Instagram know you have been hacked. But, again, this was not coming from my original account, remember, I don’t have access to my account anymore. I submitted this help request to instagram via this interface and within a few hours a I received a notification saying that my problem had been resolved. What?
So, at this point, there is virtually nothing you can do to get in touch with instagram. I put out a video on my other instagram account I share with my husband where we are documenting our house build. I pretty much asked if anyone knew anyone who worked at Facebook who might be able to help me, if they would put me in touch I’d be so appreciative.
View this post on Instagram
🆘 please watch and share so this scam doesn’t happen to you! My account @grillgirlrobyn has been hacked as result of a phishing scam! If you receive an email from @instagram triple check to make sure it is legit! I fell victim to an email about Instagram verification- swipe to see the email. The gmail address was not openly visible when I opened it. @instagram please help me get my @grillgirlrobyn account back and the awesome community I have built! I miss my bbq family 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻please share so insta takes notice! #scammerssuck
Because some of my BBQ/Grilling friends also follow that account, they helped spread the word and put me in touch with people they knew who worked at Facebook who said they would help me.
So, what can you in this instance? From what I’ve discovered, there are only really two ways you can get in touch with Instagram at this point. From the research I’ve done, Instagram keeps stuff on their server for 14 days. So Ie, if someone hacked your account for followers, etc and then deleted all of your content, facebook keeps that data for 14 days on its servers before it will be deleted off the inter web permanently. So, time is of the essence.
Here are your options if your Instagram account gets hacked, work 1 & 2 at the same time:
Find someone you know personally who works at Facebook, ie Instagram, to submit a ticket for you. I had multiple people doing this for me, and I still didn’t really get any feedback working this angle. I think something would have eventually worked out with this method, but the other method worked first for me, and remember, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
Get in touch with Facebook via the Facebook ads manager. This is the only way to get in touch with a real live person at Facebook. So, this option is really only available to you if you have 1) have a facebook page as a business and have bought a sponsored post. So, if you don’t have a fb page and bought ads, this option won’t be available to you unless you can start a page and buy an ad so that you get an a facebook ads id# that you have to submit before you can actually chat with a live person. Be warned, many of the people that work the chat may only be able to respond to things within their scope, which means reading off a script. The first time I talked to them I told them my instagram account had been hacked and it was tied to my facebook account which was now compromised, and the response I got was “sorry, this is out of our scope, we cannot help you”, and even sent me a follow up email from his supervisor, (because I had asked to talk to his supervisor), that told me the same thing. I did this early on in my quest to get my instagram account back and it was so irritating. (At this point, multiple people that worked at facebook had submitted a ticket on my behalf that actually worked at facebook). I tried a second time and got in touch with an actual person who probably spoke English as their first language, and this guy agreed to help me when I told him my facebook account was jeopardized because my instagram account had been hacked. This guy knew this was serious, took it to his superiors and up the chain of command, and said he would help me and even followed up via email to let me know he was helping me to let me know they were working on it. For this guy, his name was Kevin, I was truly grateful. My fate was in his hands and it totally changed my feelings about facebook. Like that they actually care about the people that use their platform. Within three days of getting in touch with Kevin I got my account back. I was and am beyond grateful to you Kevin!
BACK UP OPTION:
Luckily things worked out for me. But if you don’t have a way to use Facebook ads manager you may not be lucky enough to get in touch with an actual person at Facebook. Here are other options I had hear about in my quest to get my account back.
- Hire a White Hat Hacker. These are essentially good guy hackers. They have the skills to hack your account back. I would try to exercise all your other options first but hey, do what you got to do.
- Find anyone you can that works at Facebook to help you. This is the only way to get in touch with facebook, they don’t have an actual number you can call to talk to someone and as one of the biggest networks in the world with peoples’ accounts getting hacked all the time, they can’t help everyone so you have to be diligent if you want to get your account back.I hope my awful experience can help you to not get scammed as well as help you quickly identify what options you have if you do get your account hacked. I’ve heard about Instagram coming out with new tech all the time that is built to stop or deter, but it is often launched only to a few people at first before becoming available for all. Be diligent about finding someone to help you or at minimum buy an ad so you can get in touch with an actual person at the company. You can also hunt for people who work at Facebook on linked if you are desperate.
Did this happen to you? What did you learn about this process? What helped you get your account back? Please leave a comment below so your story can help others!!!
Here is the document I created to log the activity on my account once it was hacked. Because my account had been tagged on my husbands profile, I could track what was happening to my account as it was taken over. Sadly I think the guy who hacked my account, who said he conducted “social media transactions” on his profile, is still out there hacking other people’s accounts!
@grillgirlrobyn’s hacked instagram account- recap of events, here are screen shots I took and documented in a google doc to share with Facebook/Instagram so they had a recap of what happened, who was involved, etc.
- I received an email about getting verification. I have applied multiple times for verification so this didn’t seem abnormal to me. This was a phishing scam and I then gave them my account info. See below.
I responded with the code and my profile and password (like an idiot! Ugh so mad at myself!!)
2. Around 6:00 pm EST, I went to log in to my account and couldn’t. It said it didn’t recognize my username.
3. I received this message in my inbox. I went to click on the “secure your account here” link but it didn’t work because my account name had been changed so I couldn’t login.
4. Received this email and again, the link to dispute didn’t work since my username no longer existed.
5. Submitted multiple claims (as directed) to the help section of Instagram where you can notify them if your account has been hacked. Received an automated response from Instagram and when they responded, they told me the problem had been resolved (no it hadn’t!)
6. Now was receiving these verification emails in Turkish.
7. The account had been turned over or changed multiple times to new handles.
8. At this point, my husband reached out to this account and they said who the hacker was!
9. This is the account of the hacker named in the dm.
10. This is what the hacker posted on his story
11. His website, which is not findable anymore
12. Here is his YouTube video where he shows how he steals people’s accounts and changes them over. See video on the bottom. I plugged it into Google Translate.
13. This is the accomplice/another profile of the hacker. The name on the account is similar to the other one.
14. I believe this person is also involved in this scheme with the main guy:
15. My account was here, under this handle:
16. And then it appeared they had deleted the content on my account.
17. This is what my account looked like before the hack: