So, this morning, a friend of mine contacted me on Instagram and asked if my account got spoofed. He sent me an image of my Instagram account… except it wasn’t! At first glance, it looked like me … my profile picture, my name, even the last five images I’d posted. The only slight difference (which is basically unnoticeable unless you looked hard) is that they added an underscore after my Instagram handle (so they used @nicolefictionaddiction_).
IF YOU GET A FOLLOW FROM THIS PERSON (with the underscore after the name), PLEASE DON’T FOLLOW BACK!
My first reaction was shock—what was this person doing impersonating me? And then worry … wait, what was this person doing while impersonating me? I mean, they couldn’t have had good intentions, right?
Thankfully, my friend had noticed right away and let me know (thanks Malcolm!) and only 14 people had followed at that point. It looks like the impersonator just started following my followers, hoping people would blindly follow them back. It looked like me, so it’s not that surprising that some people followed back without really thinking about it all that much.
- Reported the user as spam. (That was the only option I saw under the little reporting ellipsis that seemed to make sense).
- Reported the impersonation. After doing a little searching, I discovered that there is a form to fill out to inform Instagram if someone is impersonating you. I had to give the impersonator’s handle and send Instagram a picture of me holding a form of ID (I used my driver’s license and covered the driver’s license number with my finger for good measure). Hopefully they’ll shut the account down soon.
- Contacted the impersonator’s followers. First I contacted Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books because she was the first follower that I recognized as a fellow blogger that I talk to outside of Instagram. She let me know that she’d gotten some strange messages from this impersonator, so I made the decision to go ahead and warn the other 13 followers as well (like I said, luckily there weren’t that many!).
- Several of them let me know that they reported the impersonator as well. (Thanks!!)
- Nicole @yaaas_or_nahs_books sent me a screenshot of the weird messages she’d received so I could see for myself. (Thanks, Nicole!) We’re guessing a request for her bank account info or something was coming soon.
The message is particularly sneaky because the underscore isn’t even showing on the screen! Even someone who knew I don’t have an underscore after my account name and was paying really good attention would think this was me. (And let’s face it, the number of people who would fit these criteria is pretty small—I doubt I’d be one of them.)
Anyway, I just thought I’d let people know this happened to me because it’s not something I ever really worried about. I also thought it would be good to let people know what steps you can take if this happens to you.
Hopefully this account will be deleted and there won’t be any issues, but I hate the idea of people out there using my face to scam people!!
Have you ever been spoofed on one of your social media accounts? Did it cause you any problems? I want to know!
I linked this post up to the 2020 Book Blog Discussion Challenge.
Sorry you have to deal with this. The same thing happened to my mom on Facebook. Someone made an account with her name and profile photo and sent friend request to her friends. I’m not sure if she did anything to get it taken down. I know she told her friends not to interact with it.
Now that you say it, I have seen this on Facebook before. For some reason, it had never occurred to me that it might happen on Instagram. I have no idea why.
I had that happen to me on Twitter a couple of years ago.
It had never occurred to me for some reason that people would use Instagram and Twitter that way, but I guess it makes perfect sense. I was just being naive!
Thanks for letting us know about this! Scary stuff. Scammers are evil. I’ve had this happen to me on Facebook.
Oh, right—now that I think about it, I’ve seen this happen on Facebook, but it never occurred to me on Instagram. It’s so easy for someone to just steal your pictures and pretend they’re you on Insta!
The exact same thing happened to one of my high school friends today! I don’t know if there was a security breach at Instagram or sos ring. Very bizarre. I’m glad you were able to shut down the account!
Oh, that is really weird! I wonder if it’s the same people and if they spoofed a bunch of accounts or if it was just a coincidence.
*typo in previous comment. “sos ring” was supposed to be “something.”
Yikes. I hope this gets sorted soon!
Yeah, it’s still up as of this morning, but they’re down to four followers, since most of the people who followed unfollowed when they got my message (I’m guessing the others are people who haven’t seen my message yet). Oh, and then there’s that one guy who’s a random spam follower anyway—one of those men with a profile that says something like “a loving guy with so much love for his country” or something weird like that. I didn’t warn him. I figure they deserve each other. LOL!
Hahaha matchmaking, an unforseen outcome of this impersonation 😛
But sos ring sounds like something super undercover and exciting! LOL!
Oh wow, some people are desperate individuals don’t you think. Shows just how aware we need to be.
Yeah, some people will take any opportunity to take advantage of others.
OMG, do people have nothing better to do with their time than impersonate bloggers. Like what did they think they could accomplish by this? I’d love to know where their train of thought was going.
I know, it’s so weird!! I assume they were going to start phishing for bank info or something. Like get someone talking, thinking it’s me, and then say, “Hey we should go into this great opportunity together.” That’s my guess based on the message they sent about WHO funding on CNN. I somehow doubt any of my friends or followers would have believed that I was suddenly interested in investing with them, but I suppose you never know!
Oh my goodness, how bizarre. Thank goodness you were alerted to it. And hopefully IG will shut down the account quickly. The sad thing is, the person will just create another impostor account (or a couple dozen of them) right away. So disheartening.
Yes, I just heard from one of my other commenters that the same thing happened to one of their friends yesterday, so now I’m wondering if it was the same person who spoofed a bunch of accounts.
Crazy! It’s a good thing you found out about it right away and were extremely proactive in trying to fix the problem! I hope things are resolved soon!
Yes, I’m really thankful that people let me know what was happening!!
Does that mean you’re famous? But, seriously, it’s so invasive, and thank goodness, this person wasn’t able to get a deep reach into your following. It’s sad that we have to constantly be on the lookout for people like this, and it just shatters my trust. Sorry it happened to you, but I hope it gets cleared up quickly
Yeah, I guess I should be flattered that someone wants to be me? LOL! This might be the closest brush with fame I get!
So, was their intention to get people to click a phishing link? Or were they trying to advertise CNN? Cos if so, I think CNN’s getting a little desperate! (Weird amount of effort, either way, tbh.)
I’m thinking they were leading up to a phishing link. I don’t think it was an advertisement for CNN. LOL!
i’m sorry to hear that. i haven’t had any issues, but i have changed passwords on some of my accounts. i figure there are a bunch of bored morons and trolls out there….
Yeah, there are always people who will use any avenues they can to cheat others.
Oh wow, this is crazy! I’m glad you were able to report things, and warned the people following them. I hope they are deleted soon!
Luckily it looks like they’ve been shut down now. Guess I’ll have to keep my eyes open in case it ever happens again, though.
Oh my gosh, this is terrible! Why do people have to be so awful?!?! I’m sorry you had to deal with this! I’m so relieved someone noticed right off!
Yes, I was very thankful that Malcolm let me know right away!
Omg that’s scary! I mean, I know this is the horrors of social media, but I never thought this would happen. I mean for the cursory look, people would think this is you! The extra _ on the handle makes it harder to see, but a look at the profile page would’ve had me scratching my head. That’s just too scary. Glad you had friends who caught this and you could report it. Hopefully nothing happened with the people this person reached out to. Every time you want to think about the goodness in the world and what a great bookish community we have, something like this happens. I know it’s just a scammer being their scamming self, but this is one of those horrors on the online world your mom always warned you about!
Again, glad you were able to take action with instagram and hopefully they will remove this person asap!
Yeah, I just never expected this on Instagram. Luckily, the account seems to have been shut down.
See, now I feel like the other day I went to find you on Instagram and noticed I wasn’t following you, I wondered if I followed this person too! Scary!
I don’t think you were one of the followers, but it is scary—guess we always have to be vigilant everywhere these days.
wow, sorry this happened to you. Thank God you have attentive followers!
Yes! I was very thankful that Malcolm noticed and let me know right away!!
Nicole, this is BANANAS. I am at a loss for words, which you know happens rarely. Like. What would possess someone!? I am so sorry you’re dealing with this (but also, echoing Sam, you have clearly made it, which… I am sure is small consolation when you find that your identity has been stolen, but alas.) I have not had any similar thing happen, so unfortunately I have no advice to give, but I am so sorry this happened!
It looks like they took the account down finally now—and luckily since I caught it right away, not much had happened with it yet. So crazy what people will do!
Well this is crazy! Hope the account gets taken down! I’m sorry this happened
Looks like it was gone as of this morning, so at least I don’t have to deal with it anymore. Guess I’ll just have to keep an eye out in case it happens again!
How strange! I barely use instagram so I’d hope no one would bother impersonating me but its very disconcerting all the same that they used your picture, your recent photos and basically looked like your profile at a quick glance. It’s scary the things which can happen so sorry it happened to you. Hopefully, it all gets sorted out quickly for you.
Yes, at first glance even I thought that account was mine!
Wow that’s real interesting. I’ve been using instagram a lot. I even started vlogging but I haven’t gotten the courage to turn the camera towards myself if you get what I’m saying. Hope you keep busy.I also love comedy on instagram you might like this guy #cutoutbar.
Yeah, I pretty much always stay off-camera. That’s why I like to blog instead of vlog. 🙂
Oh wow that’s crazy Nicole, I’m sorry. I’m happy that you were able to get a jump on it before this person could do damage.
Yes, it looks like the account has been removed. I’m really glad I saw it right away!
What a pain in the butt. I’m sure this is the last thing you want to be dealing with right now. I’m glad to hear you have it somewhat sorted for the time being. I’ve never had to deal with something like this, but I’m sure that it’s only a matter of time!
It’s down now, so at least I don’t have to deal with it anymore!
WILD that’s good it came to your attention so quickly and they were able to take it down! It’s so strange. I think “I’m just a book blogger, why would anyone bother impersonating me?” but clearly it could happen…
Yeah, it felt sort of surreal at first. As I’ve thought about it more, it makes more and more sense, though. Book bloggers and such are actually probably prime targets—I’m not famous or high profile or anything, so it’s not like people would think it was strange that I was messaging them. And my account isn’t a personal account, so it’s obvious that most of my Instagram followers aren’t people who know me IRL. They might see my profile picture, but everything else is just books. It’s probably a perfect setup!
That’s a good point! We (book bloggers) are relatively innocuous and low key…
Ahh I’m sorry you had to deal with that! I really don’t understand how people can do stuff like that.
Yeah, sometimes you have to wonder about people in this world.
Oh my goodness that is absolutely crazy! Why would someone ever do that? I’m so very sorry this happened to you. I just went on Instagram so I could report them and I couldn’t find the account, so it looks like it was removed. Yay!
Yes, it looks like it got removed a day or two after I posted this, thank goodness. I’ll have to keep an eye out for things like this in the future though. So sad that people will do anything they can to cheat others.
This is so alarming!! I’m so happy that you got notified of it before it got too out of hand. The internet can be so scary sometimes ?? I see from the other comments that the account got removed, thank goodness!
Yes, thank goodness it was removed!
I know I am reading this a bit late, but I popped out to check if I was following the correct you on Instagram. It looks like I am.
On the other hand I am not even shocked at this point. I would just accept if a blogger I know sends me a request on social platform. I have been blogging and commenting for so long that you guys are like my friends, so I would hit the accept button without any consideration. They are playing it right, whoever did this.
But I am sorry that it happened to you!
Yes, I would do the same—and this looked so real that I’m not at all surprised that people were fooled!