People who overnight lost everything… on Instagram | Technology
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You can live without Instagram. More would be missing. They -those who lost everything- too. However, the prevailing feeling among those who woke up one day to find their account hijacked is one of orphanhood, emptiness, and helplessness. They also speak of bewilderment and confusion at not knowing how to get their customers back or at least prevent the usurper from scamming them.
The curious thing about these stories is that they only have a stolen account in common and the unease at the indifference of Meta, the company that owns Instagram. The protocol to try to recover the accounts, with little or no success in many cases, is non-existent. Each one tells a different story, experiments with recommendations from others, follows tutorials published by those affected, or simply pays the hacker or the many companies dedicated to recovering hijacked accounts in exchange for money.
It is about people who for a decade pampered their account, delivered their data, produced content, invested in advertising, and entrusted their business and their clientele to a social network that, when badly given, has a hard time showing up. Of the people interviewed in this report, only one felt supported by Meta and got it after spending an entire night compulsively sending the same email, an hour apart from each other. As if she were also a robot.
Cristina Vázquez – 10 years on Instagram
Stolen account: @elgabinetedelasmaravillas
She is a plastic artist and sells her watercolors through Instagram. 89% of her clients and sales happened through that social network. A couple of weeks ago she received a Whatsapp message with the Instagram logo informing her that she had violated some rule, they sent her a link to correct the error. Cristina clicked on the link and within 24 hours her account disappeared. “I didn’t believe it, I changed the passwords and tried to do the verification in two steps. I started watching YouTube tutorials, calling some and others”. For several days she devoted between eight and nine hours to the matter.
The hacker by the name of rozzybeck/ok began communicating with her, first in English, then in Spanish. For 800 euros he would return her account. All her contacts could see her hijacked account, the hacker had changed Cristina’s phone and email and now he was the one who received all the account information, including the bank details of the buyers. Cristina contacted a company dedicated to recovering stolen Instagram accounts that advised her to keep in touch with the hacker because if the account was not active they would not be able to do anything. She was given a budget of 500 euros.
“I absolutely refused to pay. She seemed to me that she was kidnapped and one and the other were demanding a ransom from me, ”she explains. Meanwhile, she dedicated herself to scrutinizing her hacker, she had a number from Turkey and her profile picture showed a subject with a gun. She was scary, but she wasn’t a helpful clue.
During all this time -two weeks- Cristina has tried several times to talk to a person on Instagram, not with a bot, she has only succeeded once. They regretted what happened, they understood “the attachment” that she felt for her account, but they couldn’t do anything. “Basically, they told me to forget about it and open a new one. It’s easy to say, but here’s my ten-year job: 3,000 posts, 13,000 followers. I had a lit shop window on the main street of the city and suddenly I was left in the dark”.
She went to report it to the Civil Guard’s Telematics Crimes Unit, which sent her to a police station. She put three pages of demand. The Police advised her not to pay under any circumstances, neither to the bad hacker nor to the good one, and to change the passwords weekly. They warned him that the road would be long.
Two weeks have already passed. Every day Cristina sends several emails to her Instagram Technical Support. Each email goes with her photo, her ID, the copy of the complaint. She always the same email. At the moment they show no signs of life. A new account @cristinadelasmaravillas has been opened which now has 1,340 followers where she asks her clients to see her work on the web. “You cannot have all your eggs in the same basket, nor be at the expense of a company that does not protect you. If I recovered my account now, I wouldn’t focus so much on it and I would have another brand showcase. I don’t trust you anymore, I can’t be so vulnerable or exposed to a company that you give your data to and ignores you in these circumstances. What I have learned is that my work has the value and that I have to diversify the showcase”, she says.
Cristina has talked to many people these days, her impression is that, although they don’t say it, most of those who have recovered their accounts have paid the hacker or a company.
Ana Belen Garcia
Hijacked account: @anabeauty
Ana, influencer beauty, woke up one morning with several messages from his friends who entered his account and did not see anything, neither his photos, nor his contents. “I tried to get in and I couldn’t either, since she had done the two-step verification, she thought she was safe. I changed all the passwords, but the most serious thing was that my Paypal account was associated with Instagram. She gave me an anxiety attack. I thought about everything I had lost in eight years of work, about what they could do with my photos, about the collaborations that were underway with various brands and that I would have to cancel. She started researching on forums and opened a secondary account on Instagram itself to ask for help. There is a lot of solidarity with these first world dramas and she was helped by large accounts, with more than 300,000 followers. A company gave her a budget of 800 euros to recover her account, if she wanted the express service the price would be more expensive.
It was hard for him to find out that his case was unlike any other. “When I tried to access my account, a message informed me that I had broken the rules… I think the hacker did something wrong and activated Instagram’s alarms that could block the account before he did,” he reasons. Ana had read in a forum that if you had invested in advertising they paid attention to you on Facebook Business. It was her case, she had an active campaign, so she stopped paying and they effectively listened to her. Three days later the account was unlocked. “These were days of anguish, I stopped going to work and hardly slept,” she recalls. With everything learned, Ana published a video that already exceeds 5,000 views. “That’s where I tell my experience. I don’t know exactly how I got it back either, I think I’ve been very lucky. I know many people who have already paid many others who have never recovered the account”. It’s been a couple of years since that. Ana has gotten into the habit of changing her passwords every week, making sure 2-Step Verification is working, and blocking suspicious profiles: accounts with no photos or followers.
Hijacked account: @alicia.alfonso_
Alicia is an artist, an expert in reconstructive dermopigmentation for therapeutic and aesthetic purposes. Her account was in a period of growth when she received a message that seemed to be from Instagram. “She wore her logo and even her copyright,” she recalls. They told her that she was breaking the rules and that in 48 hours they would close her account. If it was a mistake, she was asked, she should contact them and send name and password. As she had previously been warned about the photos of the reconstruction of a nipple after breast cancer, Alicia took the message very seriously. “I sent the username and password. I remember her as she was doing it she thought she was screwing up.” Ten minutes later she received another message asking if her account was hers and warning that she would have to pay to get it back. Alicia thinks that she got a “cheap hacker”. She “she started asking for 200 euros and she went down as she softened her heart explaining that my account helped many sick people. We ended up negotiating for 50 euros”.
Alicia didn’t really intend to pay, but she needed to buy time while trying to contact Instagram. Among her contacts were many doctors who could be scammed by the hacker. “I got very annoying, she sent Instagram very long emails, with many proofs that she was the owner of the account: the photos of the ID and proof of the link of my Facebook account to Instagram. For an entire night I compulsively texted within an hour of each other. The next day in the afternoon they answered me.
In his case, the hackers had double-checked and the technicians needed three days to recover the account. They got it with a new email that had never been used on that social network, when they changed it, Instagram stopped asking for double verification. “They helped me, in five days I recovered the account and lost 10,000 followers between Wednesday and Sunday. I never considered opening a new account, if I had not recovered the old one I would have gone to TikTok, I was not going to bet again on a company that did not support me. I follow on Instagram because they helped me a lot and quickly”. Alicia has recounted her experience in a video that already has 4,000 views.
This writer has tried to contact Instagram support and Facebook Business in the third week of August. She has done it the traditional way, that is, she has not spent an entire night compulsively sending the same email. Predictably, she also hasn’t managed to talk to anyone who wasn’t a robot.
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