Grayslake Business Owner Devastated After Instagram Account Hacked, Held for Ransom

NBC Universal, Inc.

A suburban small business owner says her Instagram account was hacked, with the thief demanding money from her and her clients, and now she’s warning others in hopes that it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Danon Christoffers, the owner of a Grayslake business, has thousands of clients, and says that Instagram has played a role in her success.

A few days ago, however, she lost control of her coveted account.

“Thursday morning, I went on the Instagram account, and I was not able to log in,” she said.

She says that after she tried unsuccessfully to create a new password, she learned she’d been hacked.

“When I went to verify, it was a different email address and a different phone number that links were getting sent to,” she said.

Christoffers says that she made contact with the hacker, sending messages via her personal account, and that the thief sent her messages back, demanding payment for access to the business’ account.

“You know, I do hack for a living,” a voice memo sent from the thief said. “Don’t think I am just asking you for money. I’m going to give you your account back.”

Christoffers says that the hacker is posting on the page, and has been contacting clients. She says she immediately submitted a report to Instagram, but has yet to hear back.

Meanwhile, experts say that what’s happened to her isn’t all that uncommon.

“So many people run their lives and business through Instagram, so this is becoming more damaging,” UIC Professor Chris Kanich said.

Experts recommend that business owners take steps to protect themselves, including using unique passwords, with plenty of letters, numbers and special characters, and that different passwords are used for each account.

Just as critically, owners and anyone with social media accounts are urged to use two-factor authentication, to prevent thieves from easily gaining access and wreaking havoc.

“It is gone, and I have no access. They have all my clients at their disposal,” she said.

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