I’m lucky! I had four Facebook/Instagram friends who reached out to let me know something was wrong. I only know one of them personally, but I’m so grateful that all four of them saw, and then said something.
Here’s my story, just in case it happens to you. I would never have believed this could be true. I’m a retired teacher/writer from a small town in Ohio.
Part 1 – Two Cautionary Notes
This all started on October 16th, but I couldn’t find that message. I found this one from Karen on the 29th . . . Hi. I’m a friend of yours on FB, and I got a strange message from you on Instagram. Was it really you, or a fake you?
I answered back that I’d check. I did – no message, let alone a strange one. I asked for more information. She answered . . .
‘They’ sent a message to me today through Instagram. I am following you now twice. One account has 74 followers and no posts, which is the fake one. The other one, using your same photo, has posts.
I replied that I’d change my password again, like I did on the 16th. I thanked her again, and I hoped this was over, but it wasn’t.
On October 31st I got this message from Linda . . . Hi – Have you been contacting me via Instagram? I just want to double check that this is really you.
I apologized and said it wasn’t. I told her I’d changed my password twice already. That I was trying to figure out how to clean up this mess.
Linda wrote back . . . No worries. I just wondered because the messages are just a little off. Just now I got one asking if I know about some kind of domestic assistance grants. I’m going to block you for now, because I honestly think it’s a foreign bot. Will you contact me . . . when it’s resolved?
I couldn’t believe it! Domestic assistance grants? Foreign bots? I felt like I was in a spy movie. That’s when help arrived!
Part 2 – Help is on the Way
I messaged that night, the 31st . . . Linda, how did they get my name on IG? I just had a kiddo (I had her sister in school) who contacted me. I looked up my address and only found me. Do you have the address they were using? I want to get this cleared up, and you just can’t talk to IG. YUCK!
I’d forgotten – I messaged IG twice, and got no response. But I got this from the kiddo, AKA My Hero, on FACEBOOK . . . RINDA! Get on your Instagram if you’re able. Someone is impersonating you and trying to push “grant information.” I’ve sent you several messages with what they sent me and asked my Grandma to reach out to you as well.
Her Grandmother wrote . . . Jessica just called me and said she has been getting messages from you on Instagram about federal grants. She thinks your account has been hacked.
Wow! Jessica went above and beyond a friend! She called her grandmother who was one of my teaching buddies.
These are the original messages from Jessica. I can read the first line – RINDA URGENT! And the second – Someone is pretending to be you! The rest of both screen shots are what the ‘fake rinda’ wrote. I would NEVER write either of those messages. Sorry, if they’re a little fuzzy.
Jessica’s explanation of how they did it (extra j in the middle) is on the bottom right. She also said she flagged it but Instagram did NOTHING, even though I’d already filled out 2 reports. You’d think they would have pulled down the fake rinda. They didn’t.
This set of messages came up after Jessica’s grandmother finally got my attention. I’m so glad I could ask Jessica. You can tell – I had no idea what I was doing.
The funny thing that I learned from later messages – I couldn’t search and find this fake me, the one with the extra j in the middle. Jessica said they must have blocked me.
I did another report about THAT, but I didn’t hear anything from Instagram. NOTHING. Jessica flagged the fake account again, and Instagram didn’t respond to her either. I was disappointed, but not surprised. I have a writing friend whose web site has been blocked by Facebook for a year. A YEAR, and she’s a retired Kindergarten teacher.
Part 3 – Solving My Own Problem
It’s now January, 2021, and Instagram never got back to me – I really don’t know if the fake me is gone. The last time I checked with Jessica was on October 31st. She pulled down her flag, and the fake me was still there. She flagged them again, and suggested that I report again. I did, but I have yet to hear anything from Instagram. It’s not a surprise – the only 2 social media sites that respond to me are Pinterest and Weebly.
The only proof I have that fake me isn’t operating - no one has messaged me about grants or strange messages since October.
I didn’t rely on reports to Instagram. I put up my own post with an image that reminds me of Darth Vader. I added a message that I was hacked on Facebook, my Facebook business page, Instagram, and Twitter. Here’s a copy of that post . . .
Someone hacked me on IG so if you get a weird message from what looks like me, it's not. I only message people I know personally, and I don't do anything with grants.
My friend Jessica said - flag that weird account, and let me know. I'll keep reporting until this person leaves my account alone.
I’m glad I did! Here are my stats – I reached 11 people on my Facebook business page, 3 on my personal page, 16 on Instagram, and 0 on Twitter. Those are the ones that I know of. I wonder how many took a look and then scrolled on down.
Instagram is where I had the biggest response, 16. I also had 2 people who commented on my post.
One wrote . . . I received a strange message as well. Sorry that happened to you.
Another wrote . . . Yeah, I got that message. Maybe that’s who hacked me.
Part 4 – IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING
That’s what four people did for me. I only know one of them personally. It only took a few minutes, but the other three made a huge difference in my business. The squeaky wheel gets oiled.
I left a reporting trail. I don’t know if it made any difference, but at least it’s there. My conscience is at peace because I tried to do the right thing.
If I’m ever in the shoes of those friends who helped me, I’ll do what they did. If I see something off, I’ll say something. I’ll message them on a different account like Linda and Karen did. They saw the fake messages on Instagram, but they contacted me on Facebook. I so appreciated them and their help!
I’ll also do what Jessica did – I’ll flag the account and send in a report. Unfortunately, I don’t know the grandmothers of most of my friends, but I’d call them if I did 😊
Looking back the best thing I did was putting my message out on social media. I know there were at least 30 people who heard my story, and two of them were touched enough to write on Instagram. That’s where the original fake account originated from.
So if you’re ever in my shoes and you’re hacked, or you see something that’s not quite right, I hope you’ll take my advice – See something, say something.
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When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!