After changing my phone number and making new email accounts, I moved forward with updating all of my online accounts. I even mustered up the courage and emotional energy to create a new Instagram account.
The day after I changed my phone number and made a new email address, I received emails to my old account (which was previously linked to the Hacked Instagram) stating that I stole money, threatening to kill themselves, and defaming my character… it was an incredibly nerve-wracking and triggering experience to wake up to.
After I reported and blocked the email address that had sent me messages, I started receiving more marketing-type emails. However, I know which accounts were associated with the compromised email.
One in particular… Capital One. I started receiving a strange amount of marketing emails claiming to be from “Capital One,” only these email addresses were sent from addresses like email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and other variations of what should be something more like email@example.com. These emails looked legit! But, I had no more emotional energy to deal with the surplus of phishing emails, so I wound up frantically blocking the accounts (if they send more, I’ll add a photo).
They continue to post under my original Instagram account and are attempting to impersonate me by reposting and re-sharing old posts and stories. I’m assuming to keep building their credibility If you haven’t reported the original account please do so, I don’t want others to become victims of their messed-up games.
As I mentioned before, I made a new private Instagram account with the same goals in mind – to spread martial arts knowledge, love, and philosophical wisdom. So my task was set; it was time to start following my friends and family back and let them know that I’d been hacked. In the process of doing so, I noticed some strange activity. I’m sure you’re familiar with how you have to confirm new followers when you’re account is private – so I made some rules for myself to follow: only accept people I know and accounts that have photos and videos of humans.
Simple rules, right? Within 48 hours of making my new account, I received at least eight suspicious accounts attempting to follow me – all of these accounts had the following:
– their first post was made less than the age of my new account
– the account didn’t have photos or contained photos of only inanimate objects or quotes (no people)
– had an unusually high amount of accounts they were following or an unusually low amount of accounts they were following
– showed up one after another, after I would block the previous one
Okay… Okay, what does this all mean? – I don’t know yet.
I don’t know how else to express how terrifyingly creepy this is. It has me questioning security measures that I never even thought about. Cyber. Sure, I’ve thought about things like changing up my passwords and adding two-factor authentications but never to the point where I desperately want a form of digital self-defense.
That’s when it hit me… (hold this thought, we’ll circle back).
This makes me question if it’s someone I know. Why? I found another clue. I can see how users come to my site, mostly with referral traffic, like if you clicked on a link from Pinterest… The clue I found was from DuckDuckGo. Just because you’re using a browser that hides your search history doesn’t mean I can’t see where you came from. Which makes me question, why?
Hiding behind a fake account, hiding behind a search engine designed to keep your search history secret… this can not be the hackers… it feels too personal. Is this someone I know? Used to know? What are you trying so desperately to see? Is one person? Is there a group of people? Are they working together? WHAT IS HAPPENING??
My father’s Facebook account was hacked and copied, and now whoever owns the copied account is impersonating my father and is reaching out to our friends and family, trying to achieve… we don’t know. All we know is that they are using a photo of my parents and are adding friends and family.
Since all of this, my father has deleted his account to avoid any further risks. So if you’re receiving any weird messages or friend requests, know that it is not him.
This whole experience has been beyond weird, half the time, I can’t even process what is happening, or I’m trying to remain calm, while the rest of the time, I’m forcing myself to continue on with my life like everything is normal and it’s “no big deal.”
But this is madness, and it has to be stopped or at the very least, made aware of.
What would be our digital self-defense? We know we can take preventive measures against hackers by adding two-factor authentications, having different and unique passwords for your accounts, having one or more email addresses, not linking to free wifi, and turning off your bluetooth in public places… but how can we defend against impersonators? Is it time to start making secret code words with friends and family so we know for sure it’s them? – Would that be an extreme reaction?
There is still an account impersonating me (with thousands of followers that I have limited capability to contact, as Instagram limits a person from following too many accounts at once, but I digress), and now there’s another account out there impersonating my father. What on earth is going on? How do we get these accounts taken down? How can we defend against this?
I may not know, but I can share what I learned and my story in hopes that the awareness can help others.
Stay safe out there, physically and digitally.
More from our blogs…