Let me start off by saying this: It was my fault! And no, IG and Facebook support did not help me get it back.
One morning three weeks ago I went through my emails and opened one that was from Instagram, or so I thought. Everything looked legitimate, the email address it was sent from, the logo, the language in the email sounded normal. I clicked on the link inside the body of the email and immediately decided I shouldn't have done that. I grabbed my phone and went on IG to check for security issues and had already been locked out of my account. 😱
To say I was freaking out would be an understatement. This fast became a nightmare.
All of my two factor authentications had been changed. The perpatrators seemed to easily bi-pass all of these security layers. The email and phone number associated with my account had been changed. I had no access and it happened in under a minute. They also changed the name of my account a few times so I was unable to trace it.
Queue the veiled threats. I soon became the recipient of a string of emails that demanded a response. "Reply now or we will deleted your account." - I never did reply to them for fear of further hacking.. would my email account be next?
Now is the time to panic ...
I immediately started googling how to find Instagram support. It is very hard to actually email them an issue or report a hacking. Several google searches later, I followed directions and was able to report my hack. Shortly after, I received an email asking me several questions; what email address I signed up for the account with, what device I used, etc. About a few hours later I was delighted when I found a new communication from IG, until I read the response:
In the three stages of mental meltdown, I now reached the stage beyond panic, which called for breathing into a paper bag. I felt helpless and extremely frustrated.
Okay, I need a new angle. On to Facebook support. They are a little easier to reach because I have an ad account. I contacted them through my ads manager and got a response right away - money talks!? They asked the same set of questions IG asked. I entered the second cycle of hell.
Then this email comes in:
After a bout of self depreciating humor... (How dumb am I that I actually opened that phony email?) I go back to Google and look at other ways to approach this. Time to reach out to friends and other IG accounts who have had similar issues.
I was devastated thinking I could lose my community. I started my account in 2017 and built a very tight knit group of fellow Nasty Woman and I really didn't want to lose you all. So many hours on the computer and phone, time away from in person relationships, time making virtual relationships, I felt too connected to everyone on my page to give up and start over.
Side note... make sure you have different passwords for all of your accounts. At this point these hackers could have been able to access all of my sensitive data but I did make sure to use different passwords for each log in ID I have (social as well as banking.) I went and changed them all anyway.
The next morning I go back to Facebook and contact my ads guru. More money more response? She seems to have made contact with a department that is taking some interest in helping me. I'm told just to sit tight. Like that is possible. Back to Google ...
Hire a hacker... that seems to be the only other solution, as if we all know how to navigate encrypted apps and put a help wanted sign up. My Facebook contact tells me to absolutely not do this. I will end up screwing my self over this way. Haven't I already done that though?
After a days of being bounced around from one "team" to the next I lose hope in Facebook support actually doing anything. And luckily in my online search I have been able to procure the name of a someone who recovers IG accounts. Now the question is, can I trust this guy? Are there benevolent hackers?
I reach out on Whatsapp and exchange pleasantries with Juanr325 as he is known in the industry. I give him all of my screen shots and allow him to peak into my email to look at the "ransom" emails I have been receiving. They want bitcoin in exchange for returning my account. I learn that it is a Russian hacker outfit is behind all of this and waiting for payment. Are you f*cking kidding me? Russians? Okay, now Juan wants access into all of my other email accounts and my Facebook. It is scary to give all of this information up. I waited until day 8 of this ordeal with Facebook until I reconnected with Juan. I feel like I had nothing left to lose at this juncture.
I gave him all the information he requested. Guess what? He had my account recovered in under an hour. IN UNDER AN HOUR! Nothing had been deleted. IG security bots just send those first two messages out. They lied! Do not let them deter you if you find yourself in this position. Nothing is actually deleted for 90 days from when you hit that delete button.
So a few takeaways... IG support does NOTHING! You only interface with bots and I never actually got a human to respond. Going though Facebook was a slightly less mind numbing process but I still never got anywhere. Juanr325 came through for me. He was very upfront about the entire process and did exactly what he said he would. I did pay him but not until the account was back under my control. If you find your account hacked I recommend just hiring Juan for a quick solution. Unless you are a bikini model with 100 million followers, IG will not care.
I have learned some very important lessons in all of this. Of course I will never click on a link in an email from Instagram ever again, but mostly I learned how important this community is to me. It felt like such a loss. That may sound melodramatic but I truly value this niche we have carved out together. It's my safe place on the internet and I hope it is yours too!
You can reach Juan here if you need help too! firstname.lastname@example.org