Scammers are finding new ways to access Instagram accounts, locking users out and in turn posing as them. It can happen in a matter of minutes, leaving a victim's information vulnerable and the possibility of scammers preying on family and friends.
One victim, Juni Park, told NBC 5 scammers took over her page in seconds. They initially sent Park an email posing as Instagram, pretending to help her get her page back. When she responded, that allowed the scammers to move in and obtain her personal information.
“They tried to hack my PayPal, they tried to hack my husband’s account, Instagram, they tried to get my other Facebook account and my other Instagram account," she said.
Park explained she reached out to Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, but didn't hear back. So, she took matters into her own hands.
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"I contacted them [the scammers] today with my other account asking them please give me back my other account, and they are like ‘if you don’t give me $5,000 right now every day that pass by we are going to sell your information…every day," she recounted.
Park isn't alone as the hackers began targeting her friends and followers by sending out direct messages to her followers. They then asked her friends to cast a vote in a modeling contest.
“I was like oh my god, this is a scam, and boom it was gone in like two seconds," said one of her friends and followers, Tess.
Both Tess and Park remain frustrated and have called for Meta and Instagram to do more. Tess said their support team leaves a lot to be desired, and her concern is now turning to her followers.
“I feel like I have something to apologize for, it feels violating I feel like something was taken from me," she said.
Experts warn you should avoid following links you don't recognize, and if you receive a message from a friend asking you to follow links, you should take that as a red flag.
"I don’t want to give up I don’t want to let them win, if I make a new one if I just ignore it the hackers and Instagram win and that is not fair," Park said.
NBC 5 reached out to Meta seeking a response and its best advice for anyone who has been hacked. We have yet to hear back as of Friday evening.