Don’t Let Instagram Hackers Ruin Your Life
Over the last four or five years I have become intensely focussed on just one genre of photography – Street Photography and when not at work, am often out on the streets of, mainly London, with my camera documenting life, as I saw it, be it momentous or mundane – all of life is out there waiting to be recorded if you know where to look and I enjoyed looking for it.
Sharing my work with others became part of my daily routine and mainly on the Instagram platform, where I felt surrounded and welcomed by like minded photographers, family, friends and casual onlookers.
Over time, I had placed a portfolio of nearly 3000 images, to a following I had built to over 2,500 people – OK its not ‘social media influencer’ territory but I was more than happy with the calibre and quality of those who followed and liked my work and it was slowly building momentum.
You’ll note I am writing a lot of this in the past tense, as in early February this year (2023) I GOT SCAMMED
With so many like minded individuals on IG it wasn’t unusual for other photographers or followers to “reach out” when they were in need of support be that simply for their work, a new idea they were pursuing or quite often, to get others to vote for them in a contest they were entering – I know I have sometimes contacted my followers for similar – so it didn’t feel that strange when one Sunday afternoon, coincidentally whilst i was in London doing some street stuff, I saw a message on my phone from a fellow IG follower, asking me to support them in a photo contest. They sent a message which seemingly explained that all they needed was as many followers as possible to click a link taking us to a voting page and add our support to their image – the most votes wins!
Being a supportive guy, and as I said above, having asked others to like or vote for me in a similar way – on my next coffee stop whilst out shooting, I opened the direct message on IG, read the instructions and duly clicked the link to like their image. This was shortly followed by a verification message to click, checking that it was indeed my account that had clicked the link to like their image – all very plausible . . . . or so i thought.
At the end of that days shooting, I got back in the car and drove home as normal – out of Wapping, through the Blackwall Tunnel and home down the A2 – conscious that whilst driving, I could hear my phone vibrating and pinging in my camera bag on the back seat.
When I got home and indoors my phone screen had messages initially saying “You have logged out of Instagram” “You have changed your password”
I checked my Instagram account . . . . well i say checked – IT WAS GONE 3000 images, 2500+ followers and I was unable to access it. I had been blocked from my own account – passwords changed the lot!!
I’D GOT SCAMMED
There was no photo contest – There was no VOTE and sadly I then found out that evening, the person who I thought had contacted me, had themselves been hacked the day before – and was in the process of warning people as quick as they could – but clearly not quick enough for me to see it – whilst distracted, out shooting myself – the same bastard hackers got me too.
I sat indoors and actually felt sick in my mouth that all of my hard work, pounding the streets, creating content and sharing it with an increasing group of followers had GONE – just like that – I felt VIOLATED
They (the hackers) didn’t waste ay time – all that evening and for days afterwards I was getting messages from friends and associates asking about my IG account – why was I posting such strange out of character content – Messages from friends using other platforms asking me why I was contacting them about Crypto Currency Offers? And were they real ?
Was what real ? Crypto? What was going on ?
That evening and for days, nay weeks, afterwards I then had to personally answer all of these numerous messages apologising for something that was, now, out of my control.
I do though at this point have to THANK all of those who messaged me – realising that I had been hacked, offering support, sympathy and compassion and who offered me ways to try and restore my account – including fellow photographers, computer aficionados and even top representatives from Ricoh GR Europe, who all tried, in vain, to get Instagram to help reinstate my account.
For a week or so, I was still numb – annoyed at myself for getting caught – I am usually so very careful with scams, bogus e mails etc. I was also concerned at what else may have been linked to that scam IG message – so consequently also had to spend considerable, but I guess worthwhile, time, changing passwords on all of my other sensitive accounts – banking, social media, emails etc.
I also pondered what to do next on Instagram – the platform itself was no help at all – I followed all of their ideas as to how to reinstate my account – how to report a scam/hack but got nothing back. They don’t care about me – with my 2500 hard earned followers – why would they? There are currently over 2.35 billion monthly active Instagram users – I’m not even a small splinter, let alone a cog, on their big wheel.
To this day, some 10 weeks later I still can’t access my old account photographybymrg I need now to realise that account has gone. BUT what it did do was make me focus on my photography – I had a second account which I barely used, mrg_gr3 which i opened not long after buying my Ricoh GR3 camera – and I had started to post images solely taken on that camera, as opposed to my original account where i posted Ricoh and Canon shots as well as some iphone shots.
So, after a couple of weeks I concentrated on just shooting with the GR3 so that I can start to post again – on limited access for a while to re-build and re-focus my followers back on IG in a new guise.
So that’s where i am at – my new Instagram account is mrg_gr3 and I am slowly building back my followers there and posting shots solely taken on the RicohGR3
I still have photographybymrg.com which is this WordPress blog you are reading, and I still have http://www.facebook.com/photographybymrg – after all I paid for the new logo to be created so I may as well continue using it as my identity – albeit some of that identity was stolen from me.
PLEASE – DON’T GET SCAMMED – BE CAREFUL on Social Media – be wiser than I was in the heat of the moment. Let my failings be a reminder to you all – check and double check before clicking any links. AND If in doubt DELETE!!