B.C. company warns Instagram users after account hacked for ransom

Click to play video: 'Consumer Matters: Instagram hacker targets small businesses for ransom'
Consumer Matters: Instagram hacker targets small businesses for ransom
WATCH: A warning tonight for anyone using social media after a Surrey business had its Instagram account hacked and held for ransom. When the business owner couldn't get any help from the social media giant, they turned to Consumer Matters. Anne Drewa has more. – Jun 12, 2023

A B.C. business owner is warning others after her company’s Instagram account was hacked and held for ransom.

“He just said if you don’t pay me I’m going to delete your account and you’re never going to get it back,” said Raman Dhaliwal who co-owns WR Mattress Gallery in South Surrey.

Dhaliwal says she was hacked after she posted a video of a cabinet bed on the company’s Instagram account.

The post went viral, but Dhaliwal says shortly after the company account shut down. Eventually, Dhaliwal says she received a message on her Whatsapp personal account from someone claiming responsibility for hacking the Instagram account.

“I’m the hacker that hacked your account. I’m a student. I’m a nice person. I just need you to pay me $1,000 USD,” said Dhaliwal. “I’ve never had someone just message me and threaten me and say I’m holding your account here’s your password. I want this from you and that really scared me,” Dhaliwal told Consumer Matters.

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Click to play video: 'Consumer Matters: Small business shut down by Instagram'
Consumer Matters: Small business shut down by Instagram

Adwin Lui of Stigan Media produces digital marketing for Dhaliwal’s company and says for nearly two months he reached out to Meta – Instagram’s parent company for help.

Lui says he received little assistance. “We talked to support. Support would say we’ll get back to you in 48 hours and they just never do,” said Lui. “When you’re getting hacked and you’re being kind of held ransom that’s when Facebook and Instagram should step in.”

Consumer Matters reached out to Meta on Dhaliwal’s behalf. Within 24 hours, the mattress company’s Instagram account was restored.

“This has been two months and boom you got it done. I’m so grateful to you,” Dhaliwal told Consumer Matters.

In an email, Meta stated to Consumer Matters: “As always, we encourage people to keep an eye out for scammers and watch out for any odd requests to collect personal information.”

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Click to play video: 'B.C. social media influencer hacked on Instagram'
B.C. social media influencer hacked on Instagram

However, some technology experts say Meta needs to do a better job protecting users. “Meta is such a big company and they should have checks and balances in place of managing when people’s accounts get compromised, but they don’t seem to want to help even if people are paying for ads on the Meta platform,” said Handy Andy Media’s Andy Baryer.

Baryer says it’s important for users to avoid suspicious links and set up proper security measures like two-factor authentication on social media platforms.

“It’s a little bit of a hindrance for people because you are going to have to do one extra step maybe verify who you are, but that’s going to ensure you don’t get this problem,” adds Baryer.

Dhaliwal says her Instagram account is back up and running and she now uses two-factor authentication.

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Consumer Matters also asked Meta why Dhaliwal and her team were unsuccessful when they reached out to Meta for help on their own, but Meta did not respond.

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