In the middle of a press tour, come September 9th, (also two days before my birthday ?). My instagram account of 57k was hacked, held for ransom, and deleted. And Instagram/Facebook doesn’t care. Here’s how it all unfolded. (P.S. and turn on Google Authenticate now!)
The first sign…
I get a ‘changed email’ notification from Instagram. A hacker changed my handle (they changed it to theadventurebitch.q1, so I immediately changed an inactive account I had to ‘theadventurebitch’ so I could at least still hold onto my name), they changed the email to some random version of MY OWN EMAIL AND MY OWN DOMAIN?! but when I clicked ‘revert this change’ IMMEDIATELY upon receipt of the email, it was too late.
I was locked out entirely. They changed everything and hid (deleted!?) my account within minutes.
The link led me to a blank login page. My instagram gone, nowhere to be seen. I tried reaching out to the help page. DEAD END. — — USELESS. Everyone telling me to call instagram (laughable, there is NO NUMBER to call, I can’t even find someone who works there!) and email (I tried, and got the following response)
Then I received the threatening emails…
The emails from “firstname.lastname@example.org” started rolling in, claiming my Instagram had been HACKED and they were holding it for RANSOM.
I had 57k followers that I had work tirelessly for, posting my own photography (that I was very proud of, and was my LIFE) along with my stories and adventures on traveling, living your best life, and being financially savvy. I even responded trying to negotiate with them.
What could I do?
I had several influencers reach out to me saying they’ve heard other horror stories about this, that people HAD to pay to get it back, there was no other way (Instagram wouldn’t help, how sad is that?), so I got them down to a measly $122 for my account (which I reluctantly and stupidly paid via Bitcoin, they would not accept venmo or PayPal or any other payment that could be tracked). THEN THEY STOPPED RESPONDING ENTIRELY.
I had an emotional breakdown. I had worked so hard to become an influencer, to make the life I wanted to be living, I had partnerships with Hotels.com, PierHouse Key West, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Living Proof lined up to name a few. GONE. ALL OF MY WORK WAS GONE.
But I am not going down without a fight. I have contacted Instagram relentlessly. They first replied that my account was gone, “sorry for the inconvenience.”
Instagram doesn’t care.
EXC– — USE ME?! You’re connected to Facebook, a company that notoriously gets in trouble for collecting TOO MUCH data, you expect me to believe you don’t have that data somewhere? BS!
THEN they replied that I had been inquiring about two different accounts (WHAT? PAY ATTENTION, I TOLD YOU THE DETAILS ALREADY) and that they couldn’t move forward to protect the account holder. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?
I responded back with my media kit, a screenshot of my feed from a few weeks prior, my business card. I said I’ll just through whatever hoops you want, just GIVE ME MY 57k FOLLOWER ACCOUNT BACK.
What’s happening now?
As of today, I have reached out to SEVERAL news agencies, including the Denver Post and Denver’s Fox31 & Channel 2 who have agreed to interviews. Unfortunately, I am not the first one this has happened to. Blogger BrainsOverBlonde had the exact email threats VERBATIM, but somehow Instagram was able to restore her account within 24 hours (without saying a word to her). Here I am 6 days later with a fire in my belly. This is unacceptable.
I have SO MANY QUESTIONS.
How does this happen? How is there not a failsafe for influencers?
If instagram doesn’t store you account, why can’t we download a copy for us to restore just in case?
Why isn’t there tighter verification protocols? WHY DON’T THEY CARE?!
The story was even on the news. Nothing from Instagram.
News article covered by Denver’s FOX31 here:
I’ve wrote about what happens next here:
If you were hacked:
If you have had your account hacked, I have heard that Instagram user @juanr325 was able to help others, including @flipflopwanderers who also had their account hacked, but were able to get it back. Others were able to contact @cspirebusiness for help, or if they knew someone far up in Facebook. None of these sources were able to help me because it was far too late when I found them, apparently.
So the sooner you reach out, the better of a chance you have of getting it back.
UPDATE 2021: For additional resources, you can visit this Architectural Digest article on what to do if your account is hacked.