An Instagram influencer has been left devastated after she lost all her contacts and content when she was blackmailed by hackers.
Georgie Thomas, 27, from Adelaide in South Australia, has been been left in limbo after her account was taken over by hackers who demanded cash to get her account back and ensure her near 15,000 followers and endless posts weren’t wiped clean.
“I just kept getting emails from them threatening me and reverse dialled prank calls as well,” Ms Thomas explained to Yahoo News.
But she defiantly refused to communicate with the hackers, having previously heard figures of about $400 (£218) had been handed over without hacked accounts being returned.
When Ms Thomas, who runs her network marketing business from her account, was unable to log in, she hastily contacted Instagram for help and later Facebook, who own the social media app.
It was confirmed her email address had been changed and via security steps she wasn’t able to change it back.
She was told to take a picture of herself with a written code and send it to Instagram to verify it was her.
Hours later, she was able to gain access to the account but everything had gone.
“It’s scary to think six years have potentially gone down the drain,” she said.
She believes the hackers lost patience with her silence and decided to delete everything from the account.
With five days having passed, she is still to hear from Instagram if her followers and content will be returned.
“I genuinely have no idea what’s going on, I’m left pretty out of the loop with it all,” she said.
Ms Thomas’ impressive Instagram following first started to grow after documenting her remarkable weight loss progression.
“It all started when I lost 23 kilograms and then through my own journey I started to help others,” she said.
She began working closely with her “health and lifestyle” Instagram page to create her self-sustaining business and used the account to find clients and communicate with them.
One of her business’ products includes a six week transformation program where she mentors other women looking to lose weight with her detailed diet and exercise plans.
Users urged to step up security
Having lost all of her followers and posts, she is now facing the daunting prospect of starting all over again.
She urged other influencers and people with large followings to ensure their account is the safest it can be by turning on the two factor authentication setting which sends a code via text message or email to the account holder when a new device is detected.
Despite her woes, Ms Thomas revealed she’s putting on a brave face and trying to remain positive.
“Whatever the outcome is, if I have to start fresh there is a reason behind it all,” she said.
“I can’t help but think this is happening to shift me in a new direction.
“Life will always throw you curveballs and you can either crumble and let them take over or you can cry for two minutes then take charge and make something of it.”
An Instagram spokesperson told Yahoo News they are investigating the matter and will look to work with Ms Thomas to rectify the matter.
The spokesperson also advised users to ensure their accounts are protected from potential hackers.
“Change your password regularly, especially if you see a message from Instagram asking you to do so,” they said.
“During automated security checks, Instagram sometimes recovers login information that was stolen from other sites.
“If Instagram detects that your password may have been stolen, changing your password on Instagram and other sites helps to keep your account secure and prevent you from being hacked in the future.”
The spokesperson also pointed to the two factor authentication and to make sure you log out of Instagram on all shared devices.
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