Businesswoman reveals how she lost her Instagram account to hackers after spending $153,000 on building her brand - and she didn't even click a dodgy link
- Entrepreneur Kathy Kiedrzynski has revealed how her Instagram was hacked
- She was chasing the blue tick when she got a message to say she was verified
- But it was an elaborate scam from a profile pretending to be Instagram
- She was then locked out of her account and it was held to ransom by criminals
- She refused to pay up so they made good on their promise to delete the account
Kathy Kiedrzynski was chasing the blue tick for her Kiyomee Blends Instagram account when her page was hijacked and held for ransom
A heartbroken entrepreneur has revealed how ruthless scammers stole her business' Instagram page leaving her hundreds of thousands of dollars worse off.
Kathy Kiedrzynski was chasing the blue tick for her Kiyomee Blends Instagram account when her page was hijacked and held for ransom.
Kathy told FEMAIL the professional hackers messaged her over WhatsApp 12 hours after they took hold of her account and asked if she wanted it back.
When she said yes they demanded $400 for the page - but the tiny ransom amount was a huge red flag for the veteran business owner.
'I couldn't put a figure on what would have been a less triggering amount but to me you wouldn't spend so much time getting someone's account to demand such a small amount,' she said.
Kathy had spent more than $153,000 on her Instagram strategy for two years and had attracted over 44,000 followers before it was hacked.
So she knew it was worth more to the hackers than they were letting on.
She asked them how she could be sure they would come through with their promise to give her access to the account.
Kathy shared a text thread with FEMAIL showing the demands from the hackers who stole her account
To which the hacker replied: 'I buy and sell people's accounts every day, I can take hundreds of screenshots.'
But the answer did nothing to ease Kathy's nerves.
She was afraid the criminals would continue to ask for more money or somehow use what they had learned to scam her further.
'I wasn't prepared to lose anything else,' she said.
So she ignored their demands while they continued to send texts to her phone warning she was running out of time to get her account back.
It has been two months since her account was stolen and the thieves have since made good on their promise to delete it because she didn't pay up.
The saga all began seven months before the account was stolen, when Kathy decided to apply for the coveted blue tick.
Several accounts had popped up doing giveaways and pretending to be her business so she wanted to secure the tick to safeguard her fans.
But the plan backfired on Anzac Day when she received a message from a page pretending to be Instagram to tell her she had been successful in her application.
The hackers have come good on their promise to delete the account if she didn't pay up
'The account looked legitimate, it had 800 million followers including thousands of big companies with blue ticks,' she explained.
There was no link in the inbox, simply a request for the business owner to log out of her account, wait a minute, then log back in.
'When you apply for the blue tick they say you have to do this, so I wasn't concerned, it is all part of the normal process,' she said.
But when Kathy logged back into her account she was instantly alerted to a third-party accessing the site from an untrusted location.
Seconds later they had switched the language settings from English to Turkish.
'Before I could translate the page to lock them out they had switched on two-factor authentication and locked me out,' she said.
Kathy thought she had two-factor authentication set up on her Instagram already - wrongly assuming her social medias were linked in her business suite.
Kathy said she had invested $153,000 in the account, paying people to set it up create content and purchase site-wide advertising
'I have created different two-factor authentications using apps and numbers and codes and questions to stop this from happening again,' she said.
The takeover was so clean Kathy has no doubt the perpetrator was as prolific as he had suggested.
'The worst thing is we reported the page and the incident and still haven't heard from Meta,' she said.
Her new account still only has 1,255 followers - something which makes Kathy furious and incredibly sad.
Her new accounts still only has 1255 followers - something which makes Kathy furious and incredibly sad
The business owner has copped abuse online since her account was stolen with many people doubting her intelligence and social media competence.
'I am not some dumb blonde, I never clicked a link, and I am just speaking out because I don't want this to happen to anyone else,' she said.
Every now and then Kathy wonders if she made a mistake when she decided not to negotiate with the criminals.
But she still thinks they would have continued to build a web around her and she would have lost much more if she agreed to their terms.