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Security experts are warning Instagram users about the dangers of copycat accounts. In the past week alone there has been a huge uptick in interest on the topic, with the number of Google searches for “what to do when an Instagram account is cloned” increasing by a whopping 336 percent. And in the face of this threat, tech gurus are advising Instagram users on what to do if they discover their account has been copied.
Naj Ahmed, a cybersecurity expert at VPNOverview, explained that having your Instagram account duplicated can open up a whole can of worms.
It can lead to friends and loved ones being tricked into thinking they’re visting a real Instagram page and even direct messaging a scammer.
This can result in someone you know sending a crook sensitive or confidential information that invades their privacy.
Not only that, but if a victim believes they’re chatting with someone they know on Instagram it can lead to them being more open to scams, for instance if they’re asked to transfer money over to someone they think they know.
Woman conned out of money through Whatsapp messages
Besides potentially monetary loss, bogus Instagram pages can also be used for catfishing scams which can lead to a victim experiencing emotional pain once they realise they’ve been tricked further down the line.
Speaking about the threat of fake Instagram pages, Ahmed said: “The biggest risk of having your social media accounts cloned is that it can potentially lead to an identity crisis. I’ve seen friends or family members not knowing that they were talking to a ‘cloned’ account, and often end up sending photos that could potentially lead to a privacy situation.
“Not only that, but many malicious actors who clone social media accounts often start asking the victim’s close friends for monetary benefits, and there have been many cases where unsuspecting individuals have ended up sending large amounts thinking that they were helping a friend, but were instead just transferring money to someone else altogether.”
If you realise your account has been hacked, or stumble across a duplicate version of your page, here’s what Ahmed says you need to do to stay safe…
Tell your friends and contacts: If you notice that your account has been hacked, the first thing you need to do is notify friends and loved ones that you have been hacked and highlight the cloned account that is not yours.
Make sure they don’t engage with the account: Tell your friends and Instagram followers not to engage with the cloned account. Warn them against any kind of interactions, especially since scammers can use fake accounts for phishing scams where they ask victims to send them money.
Report the account: The final thing you need to do is report the account in order to ensure it is shut down. Only the person being impersonated can file a report against the cloned account. If you want to report a fake Instagram profile then head to this page.
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