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With reports of Instagram hacking seemingly increasing,
Carter-Ruck has represented a British artist to recover and protect
his Instagram account after it was hacked. Shortly prior to the
hack, the client reached a follower count of over 27,000, making
him eligible for a verified account. He applied to Instagram for
verification. Shortly afterwards the hacking occurred. This seems
to be a common theme in Instagram hacking cases: hackers are aware
of the follower threshold for verification and often target
accounts which have recently passed the threshold, in the knowledge
of how important these verified accounts are for business
There are two reasons that hackers will target such accounts.
Firstly, individuals looking to turn their Instagram accounts into
verified accounts are generally using their Instagram for business
purposes and the hackers are aware that such individuals will
therefore be more susceptible to threats to their account.
Secondly, accounts which have applied to become verified are
easy to target with messages on the Instagram platform which
purport to be from Instagram, because the account holders are
expecting a response from Instagram on their verification
Our client was vulnerable on both these counts. He was sent a
message from an account with approximately 29,000 followers and the
word “Instagram” in its username, which asked him to
click on the link to progress his verification application. This
link tricked him into passing his login details to the hacker, and
he was subsequently locked out of his account. The email address
and password associated with his account had been changed and the
usual recovery functions made available by Instagram were not
Shortly after this, our client was contacted via WhatsApp by an
individual identifying themselves as the hacker, offering to return
our client’s access to his account in return for a very
substantial sum, within 24 hours. The hacker informed our client
that if he refused to send this sum or did not pay in time, then
his account would be permanently deleted. Initially, it was clear
that our client’s account was still online but the username had
been changed as well as the login and recovery details. Then, the
account disappeared completely.
At this point, our client was understandably extremely
concerned; an Instagram account which he had spent years building
to publicise his work and had gained a significant and valuable
following was suddenly gone. Once an Instagram account has been
deleted, Instagram do not have an automatic recovery process in
place. Instagram makes it clear that once an account has been
deleted, the account data will not be retained for more than 30
days, and may not even be kept that long. Once the data associated
with an account has been deleted, the account cannot be salvaged.
This means it is necessary to act urgently if your account has been
deleted without your consent. We were able to help by contacting
Facebook (now Meta) and our client’s data was protected and his
Instagram account was fully recovered, along with all posts,
messages and followers.
The hacking of Instagram accounts is, unfortunately, becoming
more prevalent. Hackers understand the value of the curated advert
that is an Instagram profile, and the hard work that goes into
building a loyal follower base. They prey upon this seeking to
blackmail small business owners.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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