So… this just happened. Last week, I found out that my Instagram account had been duplicated. Not “hacked,” mind you, but actually DUPLICATED. These weren’t people trying to gain my information individually, they were scammers trying to prey on my unsuspecting followers. Unfortunately this is getting to be pretty common, especially in the real estate world. A lot of agents I know have had copycat accounts pop up, sometimes multiple at a time.
Here’s what to look out for:
The scam is simple, someone out there created a new profile using a slight variation of my name. In this case, they took my normal Instagram name of @jason_cassity, and created a new page, with @jason.cassityy (note the “.” instead of “_”, and the two “y”s). Then, they immediately blocked my real profile, likely so I wouldn’t notice what they were doing in case I happened to search my name.
Over the next week or so, they began downloading all of my photos and videos going back about a couple of months, and uploading them onto their fake profile. THEN, they went and bought ~10,000 followers, which is pretty easy to do for just a couple hundred dollars. This was done to give legitimacy to the fake account, as my real followers likely know that I at least have that much, so they may not question it when they see a new follow from “me” later. At quick glance, the fake account looked prettttty similar to my real account.
From there, equipped with their almost perfect fake account, the scammers began to add my ACTUAL friends and followers and message them to strike up conversation. Most of my friends and followers could sense that something wasn’t right, thanks in part to the broken English. But, unfortunately, a few got further into the conversation. What ultimately awaited those who got to the “right hook,” so to speak, was an invitation to “invest” in some crypto project. It was at this point that the rest of my friends and followers knew that it was a scam, and luckily no-one was taken advantage of throughout the process.
“If someone DMs you anything about crypto or investing, report and block them immediately. Do NOT click on any links. This IS financial advice.”
THE STEPS TO TAKE
It was when the scammers began their series of DMs that I started to get messages, on my real account, from my followers alerting me to the situation. Since I had been blocked, I couldn’t actually see the profile myself, but I was able to have my wife look them up and take a screenshot for me. I then posted that screenshot in my real IG story and alerted everyone of the scammers. I probably ended with ~25 or so DMs from people looking out for me, who also then reported the fake account as fraud. I also made an Instagram HIGHLIGHT with the scam page, so that when it dropped off of my story, it remained visible to anyone doing their due diligence.
I took the next step of contacting Instagram, and submitted a “impersonating my account” form (found here), but alas… that was no help.
The gray skies parted and the sunshine came blasting through when a friend of mine messaged me, and connected me with his friend at Facebook. She was able to confirm that yes, the department that handles reports is overwhelmed, but that she would file the report for me. Two hours later, and the dirty low life scammers were no more.
Don’t be discouraged
I’d venture to say that this will very likely happen to you as well, and no… you can’t call my friend of a friend at Facebook. So, keep that link above to submit your report. Hopefully they get back to full strength soon and have as many people in your network report the scam accounts for you. Also, make sure to create the HIGHLIGHT so that anyone coming to check if it’s real will be alerted that it’s a fake.
*Note: It was also alerted to me by a couple of people that you can file the report as a “COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT” report, instead of just a duplicate account report, and that seems to get acted on quicker. The link for that report is here.
So be on the lookout for copycat accounts that may change a period, underscore or add an extra letter. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if someone is talking crypto in your DMs, it’s most definitely a scam.
That being said…make sure to follow the REAL Jason Cassity so you know it’s me.