Instagram can be a great place to share your daily life and keep in touch with friends; it’s also a place for scammers to scour for their next potential victims. Recently, we’ve seen reports about an emerging type of scam gaining popularity – the account takeover scam. This blog discusses how this scam operates and how to keep your account safe from these cunning scammers. 

The scam goes something like this…

One day, you receive a DM on Instagram, typically from a mutual follower or an account that you’ve recently begun following. This person will attempt to start a regular conversation with you, hoping to bait you into the next phase. Once communications are established, the scammer on the other end will begin telling you how successful their account is, how their followers are constantly growing, or how they’re making money on their Instagram account through this new method. They’ll mention repeatedly how easy this process is, how much money they’ve made, and how it’s positively impacted their lives. Of course, remember nothing that comes from the scammer none is true, and they’re trying to trick you. 

If the scammer is successful, they’ll try to get you to update your Instagram account with their email address. They’ll say it’s to make sure the accounts are “professionally” monitored, paid out properly, or whatever seemingly legitimate reason they can come up with. Once their email address is loaded into your account, they have complete control and can change your password. From here, the scammer may offer a ransom for you to get it back or try to perpetuate the scam.

How to spot an Instagram account takeover scam

The easiest way to spot an Instagram account takeover scam is if the account you’re messaging asks you to change your Instagram email address to theirs. If someone asks you to do this, they are trying to steal your account. There is no reason someone else needs you to change your account login to their information other than steal it. Another way to spot a potential scam is to pay attention to what this person is saying and posting. Are they constantly boasting about their follower count or Instagram success? Are they telling you that they can help you be on the same level as them? If so, it’s a scam. Followers grow by engaging with others, not updating your account security settings. 

Social media scams, particularly those on Instagram, are running rampant online. Scammers are constantly evolving their schemes, so to counter that, it’s important for us to educate ourselves about their tactics. The more we arm ourselves with knowledge about how to prevent scams, the safer an online environment we can make for everyone online. 

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