I spoke with five people who ran cannabis or cannabis-adjacent Instagram accounts, all of whom were hacked in March of 2020. Many people were hacked after clicking a link they thought came from a friend while others received phony emails and texts.
Sometimes the hacker reached out and offered to ransom the account back to them, but just as often they didn’t. Some people were able to get their accounts back and regain control, but some had to start all over again with a new handle.
These are their stories.
Freelance cannabis and psychedelics writer, managing partner of the Women in Cannabis study
Rachelle Gordon ran an account with nearly 3,000 followers. She was hacked through a link she thought was sent by a friend- but turned out to be a hacked account. The hacker didn’t contact her but by posing as her, they were able to take over $2,000 from people she knew with a bitcoin investment scam and hacked other people from her account. Though she’s reached out to Instagram and reported the account multiple times, it is active but private today.
President of Elev8 Cannabis
Seun ran an Instagram account with 8,000 followers. He thought he was responding to a message from a friend, but the account had been hacked and his account was compromised too. His hacker reached out and offered to cut a deal for the account which Seun refused. After he turned them down, the hacker began posting about a “get rich quick” bitcoin investment scheme. Seun was able to get his account back through a connection at Instagram but has kept it quiet since getting it back.
Vee the Traveling Cannabis Writer
Veronica’s account was hacked after she clicked a phony link emailed to her from “Instagram”. The hacker tried to sell her account back to her, and when that didn’t work, they began messaging people from her account (including the author of this article.) Veronica already had a backup account in place as a fail-safe in case Instagram turned on her so she switched to that account and created yet another backup account. She reached out to her network from the backup account to let people know her main account was compromised, and not to trust any messages. The original handle is no longer active.
SMACK THE HACK
Anthony ran an account with over 6,000 followers. He found out his account was hacked after Instagram emailed him about a password change- it had been hacked while he was on a flight! The hacker never reached out to him but began posting pro-Trump propaganda. Anthony was able to get the account reported and flagged for suspicious activity. It was eventually taken down, and the handle is no longer active.
Publicist at Ring Relations
Kim’s account was hacked after Rochelle’s. The hacker reached out, pretending to be Rochelle, and sent her a phony link that gave them access to her account where they changed her password and locked her out. Posing as Kim, the hacker began to reach out to her followers promising “get rich quick” bitcoin and cryptocurrency schemes- and they even managed to get into her Facebook account! Kim was able to get her account back using Google Authenticator and her handle is still active today.
Has this happened to you on Instagram? Have you gotten your account back? What worked for you? Please share in the comments.
Written by: Jessica Riley
Edited by: Veronica Castillo
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