Imagine waking up in the morning ready to go to work, driving to your business, a business that you have built from the ground up and it was gone. Imagine that someone had gone inside the building took all your files, clients, and anything else needed to run said business. Whether it be a hair salon, property management company, clothing boutique or restaurant, in my case my Instagram account.
Imagine everything was gone. Nothing left. How would you feel? Lost, devastated and distraught I’m sure. Then not to mention after finding out you just lost all of this the person who stole it from you was requesting a ransom to get it back.
This is exactly what happened to me last week. A normal Saturday afternoon, ready to take the boat out on the water with my family. On the way to the boat landing, I get an email. An email that looked like a brand email requesting to work with me to promote their products, an email that looked similar to those I receive all the time.
This time it was different. Once I clicked the link which I thought was sending me to their Instagram page all hell broke loose. Literally. Within 3 minutes they had gotten into my Instagram account, changed the username, password, email and phone number associated with my account.
Another few minutes went by and I got an email from the hackers stating they will delete my account within 3 hours if I do not pay them $400.
My Instagram account with 60k followers was being held for ransom. Everything I had built was literally taken away from me in an instant.
My first initial reaction was to find some kind of support from Instagram. Well, that is basically non-existent. The maze that Instagram sends you on to get any help is laughable. Every support button leads to broken/dead links and emails from robots which lead absolutely nowhere. It’s awful. Instagram is so focused on influencers who are getting “fake likes” instead of being focused on the real problems….like hackers holding accounts ransom.
This back and forth went on for 5 days. Including during my birthday. Happy freakin’ birthday right? Well, I had finally reached out to a “good guy hacker” who so many other bloggers recommended and swore by…Juan. He was so patient and tried so hard to help me for days. Literally. He dealt with the endless questions and craziness from me. So. Many. Questions.
He tried to help me for days with no luck he worked so hard and I’m so thankful for all his work.
Finally, I couldn’t help myself I asked the hackers the lowest amount they would take for me to get my account back. I couldn’t help and I paid. The hacker told me he would take $75! Yes, I paid the hackers $75! $75 y’all for 3 years of my life! I had to try and prayed for the best and they actually restored it. I was in the middle of Walmart and had a complete breakdown.
My Instagram and blog are my babies, I literally grew this from nothing and I pour my heart and soul into it every day. I am beyond grateful for this amazing community and for everyone who has tried to help. This whole experience was an eye-opening, to say the least. I’m so relieved that the situation is now resolved. I don’t know if paying was the best way to go but I felt that I needed to try and for $75 it was a no brainer. I’ve also learned so much from this, and I’m coming back stronger!
PSA: Set up two-factor authentication on your accounts. NOW!