How I Got Hacked: The English Stamp Company

How I got hacked
14 Apr
/
5 min read
The owners of English Stamp Company

For 30 years, the Dorey family has been delighting customers all over the world with high quality, personalized rubber stamps handmade in the UK. Since creating an Instagram account for the company in 2014, it has been a vital marketing and sales tool, organically growing to some 40,000 followers. 

However, in 2021 they received an email from a hacker, who’d stolen control of their account and threatened to delete their photos and sell the account. Keep reading to hear their story.

The origins of the English Stamp Company

“Jon and Sasha Dorey launched The English Stamp Company in March 1992. Inspired by a trip to India where they were overwhelmed by the sights and colors on offer, the couple returned with an idea to recreate some of the magic of the subcontinent. They began making rubber stamps to print gold stars onto walls and the family business was born out of their small workshop in rural Dorset, England.

From gold stars to boats, beetles & otters, Sasha’s mother hand drew most of the first designs and over the past 30 years we have developed more and more hand-drawn designs, in-house for you to use at home. New designs are all still drawn in house by Yve, Kim or Bella. Whilst we all have our own style, our taste is similar and enables the new designs to complement our existing range.

We now sell to crafters all over the world, from personalized address stamps, to wedding stationery and we have close to 1,000 art stamps that can be used to decorate correspondence cards and gift wrap.”

The importance of Instagram to the business

“Being an online business, Instagram is incredibly important to us. We are able to demonstrate how our products work and create inspiration for our customers, which helps to drive our sales.

"Being an online business, Instagram is incredibly important to us. We are able to demonstrate how our products work and create inspiration for our customers, which helps to drive our sales" - Bella Dorey, The English Stamp Company

We set up our Instagram account in 2014 and have been able to build up our account over the years. Currently we have around 40,000 followers! Sasha has done most of the photography for the business and has been able to capture our products in such a way that has encouraged our following organically. 

Since the addition of videos to Instagram, we have found this an incredibly useful tool and find that our customers enjoy this content a lot more, so we have been investing more time into video creations”. 

Instagram hacked: An ominous email from “Carlo”

“We got notified of our hacking via an email that came in from ‘Carlo’. As soon as we opened this email we immediately went to log into Instagram and to our disbelief, we were not able to log in. We tried on numerous devices but could not log in. We searched for our business’s account from our personal accounts and were unable to find it.

Straight away, we followed the instructions from Instagram for when you are having trouble logging in, but were just told the account had been removed. We didn’t engage with the email correspondence from the scammer at all, as we didn’t feel this was right. 

The next day we received more emails from ‘Carlo’ claiming that they would delete all our photographs and sell the account, unless we responded to the emails. They mentioned that they were hoping we would pay, however they never asked for money or told us how much they wanted us to pay”.

You might be interested in: 6 ways hackers steal Instagram accounts

Losing access to Instagram: A blow to the business 

“When we realized we had been hacked, and our account had been ‘deleted’, it was incredibly disheartening. With the pandemic, we had not been able to attend our Christmas exhibitions shows. They were so important for us to be able to connect with customers and demonstrate our products, so without this, we were pretty dependent on our social media following!” 

Trying to get the Instagram account back

“We went through all necessary steps on Instagram, watched endless videos on YouTube and read endless blogs of other people who had experienced the same thing. We could not find any answers. The Instagram help platform had us going round and round in circles, as the hackers had changed the name of our account and hidden it from followers, there was no way of us finding out what the new name was.

To Instagram, this meant that our account did not exist, so they couldn’t help us. They told us that the account had been ‘permanently deleted’ so couldn’t do anything about it. 

An inside connection - the only way to get an Instagram account back?

“We were eventually able to get our account back as a follower informed us of an email address for someone at Instagram, who was able to get their account back when they had been hacked. We sent an email to them and got a quick reply asking for us to confirm our identity and proof that we owned the account, which we did. We were then sent a link to set a new password for the account, and within a day, we had our account back!

Nothing had been deleted, all of our content and followers were there and we were so incredibly relieved! We couldn’t believe that we had spent 2 weeks of being told our account had been deleted, only to have someone else reactivate it so quickly”.

The mental toll of getting hacked on Instagram

“It was a really stressful time and we spent hours putting work into the new account and coming up with a plan to build it back as we could, so that we were able to have a functioning account back. It was also disheartening to know that it happens to so many other people, who have the same story of Instagram not being able to help them, unless you are able to track down one of these insider email addresses that CAN actually help". 

"It was also disheartening to know that it happens to so many other people, who have the same story of Instagram not being able to help them" - Bella Dorey, The English Stamp Company

Instagram security advice

“Since getting hacked, we’ve added two-factor authentication to everything. To be honest it was a bit of a wakeup call for us and we feel much more secure now having done this. I can’t believe this is not an essential step for every account to do, but sadly it’s not and we’ve since been very vocal about ensuring this step is taken”.

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