Hacked Instagram account; can my friend get justice?
December 3, 2013 11:35 AM   Subscribe

A fellow aspiring entrepreneur and friend of mine is in desperate need of help. Time is of the essence! Here's the story: Two years ago he created his own business that sells custom hand-made clothes and products. He owns a website and is on all of the normal social media. One of his most effective tools to connect with customers is through instagram. He's worked hard over the years to develop a fan base of over 27K followers. Mysteriously, last night this account was hacked. They changed the password, hacked the business email, and have taken control of the brand. This account is the business' main source of revenue and advertisement. Although he's trademarked the company and taken all the normal preventative measures, the admin. at instagram claims there's nothing they can do to help. Assuming this is true, what are his available options? Essentially, my friend's ship just got hijacked by some evil bastards and he's going to need a seal team to get it back.

Is all lost? If not, what can I do to help my desperate friend?
posted by intelligentfool to Technology (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'd get back on the phone with Instagram and escalate until he can find someone who can help.

Also get on Facebook and other social networking sites to insure that the passwords are secure.

I wouldn't let it drop, going so far as to get a legal injunction.

Now, the problem is, social media is awesome, but the accounts are owned by the companies, not by your friend.

If his Twitter account is linked to the Instagram, he can inform his followers that he's been hacked that way.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:46 AM on December 3, 2013

Make sure he turns on 2-factor authentication on Twitter and Facebook after this.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:48 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd ask for a supervisor, and then his/her supervisor and so on. Someone at Instagram can help. They may, however, refuse to help without a request from police or a court. Threaten a lawsuit. File a police report. Elevate it because this is a crime. Hacking accounts is illegal and with a court order, Instagram will be required to check IP addresses and so on. If this is really his source of revenue, I'd go to the police, court order or whatever records from Instagram, etc. Maybe your friend should talk to a lawyer.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:50 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mysteriously, last night this account was hacked. They changed the password, hacked the business email, and have taken control of the brand.

The business email should be the easiest to regain control of, and from there it will be easier to re-gain Instagram access. Is the email in question business@businessdomain.com or business@gmail.com?
posted by DarlingBri at 11:51 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Use social media - find high ups at instagram and tweet them.
posted by dripdripdrop at 11:52 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Did you call the police? If this is true, then your friend is the victim of a crime.
If a police officer calls instagram, it might be a very different response.

My advice: First phone call is to the police. Second it to a lawyer.
Then start trying to deal with these computer issues.
posted by Flood at 12:04 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

He needs to be working with his email provider to regain access of his email so he can sort out his access to his Instagram account. Or did they change the email on the account?
posted by Lyn Never at 12:07 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks so much guys!!

I've been sorting and sharing your knowledge with my friend. Here's a quick status update:

1. He can't reach anyone from instagram via phone. It's all automated.
2. He wasn't aware that this is the sort of crime you could report to local police, he's doing this now.
3. He's on the phone with his lawyer.
4. The hackers changed the instagram email.
5. He's currently changing all his passwords and activating two-step verification for everything.

This is an amazing community of people and I thank everyone of you for your help. My friend is sincerely thankful too.
posted by intelligentfool at 12:37 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

A useful technique in this situation, especially when you're actually willing to use legal recourses, is to get each person's name and ask them to spell it. They tend to pay more attention afterwards.
posted by rhizome at 12:38 PM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]

I've had quick success with things -- though not as big as this -- after finding and tweeting high-level people at relevant companies.
posted by ambient2 at 12:55 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

To be clear, I am not saying local police will actually know what to do or care much. That's why an attorney who understands online impersonation and hacking may be a good person to consult with.

I would definitely try like hell to get Instagram to do something on their own. That will be the easiest and fastest way. I assume your friend tried this?
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:02 PM on December 3, 2013

If you can't get through to anyone at Instagram, it might be worth sending your story to Consumerist, I bet they would pick it up.
posted by radioamy at 3:09 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

If he's used the same password for multiple services he needs to stop doing that.
posted by flabdablet at 3:12 PM on December 3, 2013

FWIW, @dantoffey was one of the first community-relations people at Instagram and has grown with the company.
posted by Good Brain at 6:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

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