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Scammers Employ Instagram Stories to Target Users


Instagram is the fourth most popular social media platform in the world, with over one billion monthly active users. Almost everyone, from celebrities to your kids, has an Instagram account. This global success makes it a very lucrative target for threat actors. 

According to BBC, the scamming has worsened over the past year, with the Instagram fraud reports increasing by 50% since the coronavirus outbreak began in 2020. Scammers just need a handful of those people who will help someone without thinking. And since they’re not after money, just a bit of someone’s time, they already have one foot in the door. 

The latest scam involves Instagram backstories. Fraudsters will ask you for help, tell their backstory, and put their fate in your hands. Here are some of the Instagram stories that fraudsters employ to target users: 

  •  "I’m launching my own product line." 
  •  "I’m in a competition and need you to vote for me." 
  • "I’m trying to get verified on Instagram and need people to confirm my fanbase with a link."
  • "I need a help link to get into Instagram on my other phone." This is the most common tactic employed by scammers. 
  • "I’m contesting for an ambassadorship spot at an online influencers program." This one is surprisingly popular, with fake influencers everywhere. 

Scammers try to get access to your Instagram account by sending you a suspicious link, either as an Instagram direct message or via email. They will then ask you not to click the link but merely take a screenshot and send the image back to them. The link is a legitimate Instagram “forgotten password” URL for your account, and fraudsters want you to screenshot it so they can use the URL to reset your password, take over your account, and lock you out. 

Regardless, any requests for link screenshots should be treated with extreme suspicion. Whether product lines or ambassador programs, you can safely ignore these messages. If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to Instagram. Change your password and enable two-factor authentication. If you reuse passwords, a scammer could break into more of your accounts. Change those passwords.

Experts have revealed the cost of hacking accounts in social networks

 The most popular social networks and messengers for hacking attempts are VKontakte (VK), Instagram, Telegram and WhatsApp, while the price can vary from $10 to $2,300. This is stated in a study conducted by Bi.Zone.

"We analyzed ads on the darknet from May 2020 to August 2021. In different months, the cost of hacking varied dramatically. This could be due to a situation where some sellers are not actually providing a service but are simply scamming people. They are the ones who can actively dump on the market. Real hackers set their prices based on the time spent. Sometimes they can search for a password in a leak which will significantly reduce the search price. If there is an insider attacker from the developer company, then most likely the high price will be due to the usual risk for the criminal", said Evgeniy Voloshin, director of BI.ZONE expert services block.

The analysis showed that the price of the offer to hack an account in VK varies from $10 to $160. Scammers most often offer to hack this social network.

According to experts, the social network Instagram remains in second place in popularity among hackers. The scammers estimate the cost of their services at $540.

Among messengers, Telegram and WhatsApp hacking offers are leading in popularity. For violating the privacy of these applications, scammers charge from $410 to $2,300 and from $270 to $1,770.

Hacking a personal mailbox, according to analysts, remains another popular service among scammers, the cost of which ranges from $40 to $1,500, respectively.

Voloshin recommends using long passphrases, password managers and a two-factor authentication system to avoid hacking personal accounts. Also, in his opinion, it is important not to store data in cloud services and not to send it in messengers, connecting to an unknown Wi-Fi source.