Scammers target Instagram accounts, security feature you should turn on to help protect yourself

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- When it comes to social media and emails -- we all know not to click on links sent by someone we don't know. But what about a link sent by a friend?

That's exactly how one Fresno man says his Instagram account was hacked.

It started with an Instagram direct message from someone Devin Everk knows and trusts.

"He sent me a message saying, 'Hey man, I just started this new job, it's in tech and finance. If you can take this survey, I'd really appreciate it.'" Devin Everk said.

Figuring he was helping a friend, he went to take the survey. What he didn't know is that his friend's page had been hacked by scammers.

"As soon as I clicked that link, I'm logged out of my Instagram account and, about five seconds later, I get email after email saying your password has been changed, your email has been changed," Devin Everk said.

The hacker who took over Devin's account started reaching out to Devin's friends on social media through direct messages and started posting about ways to make money with bitcoin.

Devin uses his page to promote his business, so family and friends reached out to the page, trying to get it back.

"We got a message from the hacker saying that 'If you pay me, we'll give you your page back.' And they wanted pay in the form of bitcoin." Lewis Everk, Devin's dad said.

Fresno City College Cybersecurity Instructor Verne Farley said everyone on social media is vulnerable to falling victim to scams.

He said messages like the one Devin received makes it harder to identify.

"When it's on that little screen, it's really hard to figure out is it artificial intelligence? Is it somebody who's misrepresenting my friend and their profile? Or is it really the person I want to speak with?" Farley said.

Farley suggests people start with a strong password and set up two-factor authentication.

"Two-factor authentication is a process where you can put in a secondary method for logging into a system," Farley said.

Once you set it up, every time you log in on a device it doesn't recognize, in addition to inputting the password, you will receive a one-time code to enter as well.

Devin didn't have the two-factor authentication set up and once the hacker was in, the hacker set it up for themselves, essentially locking Devin out.

Devin still hasn't been able to access his account, so he has started a new one.

Farley says, if you get hacked, reach out to the social media company itself because many have steps on what to do if you've lost access to your account.

If you suspect your Instagram account has been hacked, Instagram suggests users do a few things.

Instagram suggests checking your email for a message from Instagram, Request a link from Instagram, or Request a security code or help from Instagram. You can find more information on what to do by clicking here.

At minimum, he says you can also try to get the page shut down so your friends don't fall victim as well.

Action News reached out to Instagram about this scam.

A spokesperson sent an email directing us to a page showing scams users should be aware of.

They also sent a link to a page listing security tips to protect your account.

For a step-by-step on how to set up two-factor authentication, click here.
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