I have written in the past about scams on Instagram where criminals lure people into becoming victims of scams by posing as a celebrity, company or someone whom you may trust. These people apparently don’t remember my motto of “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.” Instagram has a security protocol by which you can apply for a blue verified badge that will appear on your posts indicating that you are who say you are and that your identity has been verified by Instagram. As you can imagine, having a blue verified badge is desirable which is why scammers are sending out phishing emails to Instagram users posing as the “Instagram Verify Team” which because of the improper grammar should be an early indication that this is an scam email. This scam was recently noted by the cybersecurity firm Trend Micro who have attributed the scam to Turkish hackers which may explain the faulty grammar. In the phishing email, the scammers posing as Instagram offer the opportunity to apply for a blue verified badge. The scammers ask the targeted Instagram users to provide their Instagram username, password, email address and birth date in order to get the information necessary for the scammers to take over the Instagram account of their targeted victims. In some instances, once they have taken over the Instagram account of their victim they threaten to delete the account unless the scam victim pays a bitcoin ransom or sends demanded nude photos or videos.
Along with the standard advice of never providing the type of personal information asked for by the scammers without verifying independently that the request for the information is legitimate, you can also avoid this problem by having dual factor authentication for your account so that a one-time code is sent to your cell phone for use each time you access your account. Some dual factor authentication protocols only send the code if your account is attempted to be accessed from a device other than your usual device.
The particular phishing email used in this scam was also one that should have aroused skepticism in anyone receiving the email due to the numerous grammatical and punctuation errors. In addition, Instagram does not send out emails offering the blue verified badge. If you are interested in applying for a verified badge, here is a link to the Instagram page which explains the program and how you can apply.
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