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The Story of How I Was Scammed and Lost 40,000 Instagram followers in Less Than 60 Minutes!

The excitement of thinking I was a celebrity got the best of me and I almost lost it all...well, almost all my IG followers!

I recently appeared as contestant on a new HGTV reality show, The Biggest Little Christmas Showdown, a tournament- style competition to build winning miniatures. My episode aired on Friday night, December 4th and I was riding high on all the great feedback, messages and comments from friends, family and followers.

The next morning, I was fielding calls from well-wishers and was excited by the positive reviews I was receiving. I was feeling great when I received a text or an email (I can’t recall which came first) from Instagram informing me that I had received the coveted Blue Check Mark Verification and that I had to confirm my details.

I was elated to think I might achieve this status, after all I was now a "celebrity" on a TV show, so, of course, I would be getting blue check mark and so I rushed and offered all of my information.

Well, it wasn’t Instagram, but scammers who wanted control of my account. And I gave it to them without hesitation. With very little information they were able to change my email and password and take ownership of my account.

So within 60 minutes, I lost my account, more than 44,000 loyal followers that took almost 6 years to cultivate. I no longer had access to messages, direct messages, my content or important statistics.

I was devastated. While I had a two-step verification set up, the alerts telling me that my password and email had been changed, for some reason, went to my spam account!

The Spammers were acting as me and on behalf of my business! They started scamming my friends and followers. I was fielding messages from concerned people who knew what was happening and were trying hard to help. They were reporting the account as "fake" and I was grateful for the support.

It all looked so professional! I tried contacting Instagram, filed the online forms but I thought with millions of Instagram users and accounts, I shouldn't expect a phone call or message. Online articles have been written about this type of scam, but of course I had never been aware of this scam before this occurred.

But I DID hear back from Instagram after using the Help feature on my Facebook business account. I communicated with a real live person and I received a claim number and everything! The communication was clear and consistent and I was assured they were doing everything they could to help.

In about 5 days, I received an email that an Instagram investigation had determined that my account was compromised and that they were working on getting it returned to me. After a series of emails, password changes and other safety protocols I was once again able to log onto my account and post, like and comment once again! I could not have been happier with the response from the folks over at Facebook and Instagram, they really came through for me. The only change is my account name went from dthomasfineminiatures TO dthomasminiatures!

I tell my story to alert those to how easy it is to get scammed, especially when distracted and when you might have your guard down, and to lose something that is very important to you. My advice is if it is too good to be true then it just may be and make sure you know who you are communicating with!

I'm thrilled to be back on Instagram!


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