“Instagram impersonator accounts are more dangerous than we think.”

If you’re following your favorite real estate agents on Instagram, you have likely seen DMs and follow requests from copycat accounts that look legitimately like the account you are already following. This might even lead you to DM the copycat to ask “Is this really you?”

Byron sees it all the time. And it’s just gotten worse. 

Deleted Accounts

Matt Lionetti and Paige Steckling, two of our favorite real estate agents – with around 30-40k followers each – had their Instagram accounts completely deleted.

Like many real estate agents on Instagram, Matt and Paige had several fake accounts impersonating them. And in both cases, it seemed that some of these lookalikes started mass-reporting the agent’s real account. 

Instagram thought the real account was the fake account and deleted it without so much as offering Matt or Paige a chance to prove their account was the real one. 

Ransom Notes

What happened next added insult to injury. Both Matt and Paige received messages on WhatsApp offering to fix the problem for $500.  

On her TikTok, Paige shared screenshots of the messages she received, the first of which offered to protect her from a client who had paid the scammer $500 to delete her account: 

@utahrealestatepaige

TikTok you guys are all I have left 😭 if anyone has a contact at Facebook or Instagram please let me know! Willing to pay to be put in contact with the right person!

♬ original sound - Paige Steckling

Within minutes of having his Instagram account shut down, Matt Lionetti received a WhatsApp message from someone offering to fix his account for $500. Not suspicious at all.

More than a minor hiccup

This isn’t just a minor inconvenience for successful agents like Matt and Paige. These accounts make up 80% of Paige’s business and the majority of Matt’s. Both have taken to TikTok to warn their followers and ask if anyone has a solution to the problem. 

@utahrealestatepaige

How many people are scared? I’m really really scared

♬ taehyun is so bf - amber ✘ | rest

Having their accounts on Instagram shut down has made the entire platform radioactive to them. They are hoping it’s still possible to have their accounts restored, but also fear there is nothing from stopping this from happening again.

Byron puts into words what a lot of real estate agents on the platform are thinking: 

“This is how we get clients in 2022. What we need to do as agents is diversify.”

Byron Lazine

If Instagram doesn’t get better at shutting down impersonators and protecting legitimate user accounts, this is only going to get worse. 

Agents React

😵😵😵😵😵😵 OMG I’m so glad that did not happen to me! I had to file over five copyright infringement forms on Instagram‘s help center to get 3 different fake accounts taken down. Those pretend accounts had bought tens of thousands of fake followers to look legitimate and people were actually falling for it FML. I hope @Instagram does some thing to protect people from this in the future

@tayadicarlo

One minute they’re trying to sell you bitcoin and an hdmi cable woven from the neck hair of an Alaskan mule deer, the next they have your whole account deleted?!

@derrickswflrealtor

Verification needs to be easier to obtain.

@heyjohnlay

This is exactly why I have my YouTube, google never has issues.

@keilahnicole

Any platform where face identification must be verified before you can create an account! 🔥

@rachel.earl.realtor

What can you do?

Loyal users who have built their businesses on the platform should take note: when it comes to protecting legitimate accounts and blocking scammers, Instagram isn’t up to the task. 

So, the more platforms you use to build your online presence, the better. 

The Broke Agent recently discussed the vulnerability of social media in this recent post and Jason Cassity just wrote a blog for BAM on “What to do if your Instagram gets duplicated,” both demonstrating how very real and frequent this is happening.

Scammers know what they can get away with on Instagram. So, what can you do? 

Big Takeaways

  1. Don’t give out your password to anyone who messages you.
  2. Enable two factor authentication.
  3. Diversify your online presence. 
  4. Keep building that email list!