Lexi Luxury quit her 9-5 real estate job in 2018 to become a full time social media creator. With over 60,000 followers across her Instagram, TikTok and Youtube channels, she’s now teaching aspiring influencers how to follow in her footsteps. However, in December 2020, her business faced disaster - a hacker stole her Instagram account. Keep reading to learn how Lexi fell for the scam and tips for protecting your account.
Getting started as a creator
“I’ve always had a passion for beauty hacks, fashion and the internet; so becoming an influencer on social media was a natural choice for me! I began about 5 years ago, and YouTube was the main platform at the time, so I began as a YouTuber and expanded into Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok as the years went on. It is my full-time career, so I don’t really look at social media in the same way a normal consumer would. When I’m logged in, I’m working”.
Scammed and held to ransom
“I got hacked on December 5th, 2020. I received an email from what looked like a legitimate brand wanting to work with me. They linked their Instagram and as I went to sign in, my information was stolen. I hadn’t realized at the time that they sent me a hacking link!
Shortly after, I realized that my Instagram was signed out on my iPhone, followed by an email from the hacker saying they were holding my account hostage until I forked over hundreds of dollars worth of crypto. They also changed my username, email and phone number so I had no way of proving that the account was mine.
I was in a state of sheer panic. I was terrified that all my years of hard work were gone forever! Not to mention the brand deals I had planned at the time…”
"I was terrified that all my years of hard work were gone forever! Not to mention the brand deals I had planned at the time".
Frustration going through Instagram support
“I tried everything to get back my account; I even sent the hacker the $235 because I was so desperate! I wouldn’t recommend this because you never know if they’ll return the account after.
It also doesn’t help that Instagram’s Help Center is outdated and, to be honest, not helpful at all. They make you fill out all of these forms, and the majority of them don’t work since they require you to enter your username and/or phone number, which the hackers had already changed.
The experience going through their support process was awful! They don’t have a number or even a live chat to help. You’re basically left on your own, desperately filling out forms and praying that a bot from Instagram sends you an email to verify your identity and get you back into your account.
Thankfully I got my account back in 24 hours, but it was only because I was filling out forms and trying every little tip from blogs I could find like a psychopath. I got lucky – I know a lot of people who lose their accounts for weeks, sometimes months, or they never get them back at all. It was horrible, I don’t wish that feeling of dread on my worst enemy. I felt hopeless and depressed, and I felt like all my hard work was for nothing".
"You’re basically left on your own, desperately filling out forms and praying that a bot from Instagram sends you an email to verify your identity and get you back into your account".
Tips to avoid getting scammed
“Maximize your account’s security by turning on two-factor authentication, and don’t EVER log into Instagram from a link in your emails! Even if it looks like a legit brand.
I would also recommend insuring your account with a service like Notch - which would be an incredible help in instances like mine! If I had it beforehand, I could have avoided all of the panic and stress while I was trying to get my account back”.
"I would recommend insuring your account with a service like Notch - which would be an incredible help in instances like mine! If I had it beforehand, I could have avoided all of the panic and stress while I was trying to get my account back”.
Advice for aspiring creators
“If you really have a passion for creating content, working with brands and building a community, I say go for it! We’re barely scratching the surface of the opportunities that social media can offer, so the sooner you start, the better. Just know that it won’t happen overnight. If you can learn to love the journey, then you’ll never fail.
Tools I can’t live without are my tripod and iPhone! I take all of my own Instagram content and about 85% of it is taken with those two tools. Every now and then I’ll use a ring light for Reels content.