I’ve heard about people’s instagram accounts being hacked, but I never thought it would happen to me. But that all changed on October 20th, 2018.
HOW IT HAPPENED
It was a normal Saturday - I woke up, started answering emails and was making a smoothie. I was documenting my smoothie making on my instagram stories and a pop up came on my instagram screen and said “was this you?” and it looked similar to the below image but had a map of the Netherlands. Someone was trying to log into my account from the Netherlands. I quickly read it and I thought I clicked “no, it wasn’t me” but apparently I hit “yes, it was me” (still unsure) and I was immediately logged out of my instagram account. I tried to log back into my account with my correct username and password and a pop up came up saying “that username doesn’t exist”. The hackers had logged into my Instagram account and changed my email and phone number. My stomach dropped and I instantly knew I had been hacked. I asked my roommate to look up my instagram and it was gone.
I don’t think anyone will ever really understand what that felt like. My business that I built for five years was gone. All the photos, memories, growth, gone. I was shaking. I was furious. I was crying.
After the initial shock wore off I received the below emails, confirming that was instagram was in fact hacked. The hacker changed my instagram email, phone number and username in a matter of seconds.
I tried to “revert the change” or “change my password” as instructed at the bottom of the emails from instagram but it was too far gone. I was helpless.
I received the below email from my hacker themselves.
I wrote this person back that they had hacked my account @emilyemig and I needed to recover it. They responded with the below:
Obviously, I wanted to pay the $315.00 and I did try, I just thought of it as a business loss. The hacker wanted payment in the form of Bitcoin or Moneygram because Paypal or Venmo can be traced or cancelled. I don’t use Bitcoin so I tried to send through Moneygram. This persons account was flagged and the money didn’t go though (not surprised). I told him I tried and begged for my account back… but no luck. (also not surprised). The hacker then continued to email me almost every hour for the remainder of the night that he was going to delete my account. This is what I call instagram ransom.
I hope you never have to deal with instagram support because they are hard to get into contact with. There’s not a direct email or phone number to get into contact with anyone at instagram. So, I googled, youtubed and googled more on how to get my account back. I came across this video, click here to watch, which helped me get to the instagram screen to report my account was hacked. It’s a total roundabout way but I found it. It looks like the below. I had to explain my situation and what happened and I got an email back from them asking the below.
Verifying my account is what took the longest. For two weeks I was emailing back and forth with instagram to verify that this account belonged to me. I had no idea what email I used to sign up in 2012 and I think that was the problem.
Although this was a shitty situation, the community of bloggers, friends and strangers that reached out to me on my new account was tremendous. I did make a new account on Sunday October 21st, the day after the hack. I reached out to family, friends and bloggers that I followed and I asked them to share my account and that they did. My instagram was back to being over 10K and then…. THE HACKER TRIED TO HACK ME AGAIN. The next morning, I woke up with a text from my mom stating my account was gone. I immediately logged back into my account and was prompted to enter in the text code I received and I was able to login to my new account. Once I logged in it took a few minutes for my photos and stories to appear back on my account. The hacker tried to hack me again, but was unable because I turned on my two-factor authentication. If you take anything away from this blog post it is this:
TURN ON YOUR TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION
You can also take it a step further and use an app-based security measure via Duo Mobile or Google Authentication App. This I have on as well. If you want more information on how to turn these features on I found all the information on Tara’s blog, click here. This girl was also hacked exactly how I was and I found her blog post through googling.
Through the shares and chat about my account being hacked I was put into contact with another blogger who had a direct contact to someone at Facebook that could help. I immediately contacted him and heard back a few days later. This person was my saving grace. They were able to verify my account, although it took about two weeks, and send me a link to get back into my account. You would think that was it, I got the link and logged back in, but the story is far from over.
Once I got the link to log back into my account - the link was broken. Apparently a system wide error happened on that day, the day I tried logging back into my account. (JUST MY LUCK) It took a seven links being sent to FINALLY log back into my account. Once I logged in, I noticed all my photos were deleted, 10K of my followers were deleted AND everyone I was following was deleted. The hacker wasn’t lying when he said he was going to delete everything. After a few back and fourths with my Facebook contact, they told me they were not able to recover my photos :(
It has now almost been a full month without my account, but I am thankful I was able to get 60K of my followers back. I am ready to just start with my original account and go from there. I want to thank everyone that has been so invested in this situation with me, who has shared my new page and story, and for all the support I have received from all over the world.
And although it seemed at the time I had lost everything, with everything going on in California right now, this is microscopic compared to what the mass shooting and fire victims are going through. At least I was able to get my account back, complete or not, most shooting and fire victims will not be able to get back what they have lost these past couple weeks.
If you are able, please help the victims by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.