During the last couple of weeks, many people (which includes celebrities) have fallen prey to a scam called “Instagram Copyright Infringement.” The fraudsters have been impersonating Instagram Help Centre officials and getting their hands on personal user information. The most recent celebrity who has fallen prey to this scam and thus lost access to her account is actor Amisha Patel.
How Does this Instagram Copyright Infringement Scam Work?
Apart from the recent victim Amisha Patel, numerous other celebrities, including Urmila Matondkar and Asha Bhosle, got a message on their Instagram account from a verified profile generally named “Help Center” claiming that he/she is linked to the Instagram Copyright Infringement Center.
The message received said that they (posing as Help Center) had received a lot of complaints regarding their (the receiver’s) Instagram account for a long time now, and thus they wanted to inform the user about this issue. The message further read that before the user temporarily disables his/her account, some of the posts they have published on their account breaches the platform’s community guidelines. If the user believes that this copyright infringement statement is not valid, he/she should give immediate feedback – failing to do so; their social media account will be deleted from Instagram permanently within the next 72 hours.
At the end of this message, a copyright appeal form was attached in the form of a link, which in reality was a phishing link, asking the message receiver to enter information such as their account password, date of birth, and so on.
What Is a Phishing Link?
A phishing link is a link made by scammers who mislead people into believing that they are actually filling in their personal information on a secure website, in this case – the Instagram Help Centre, but in reality, those entered details go directly to the fraudster.
By getting their hands on this information, the scammer can easily sign in to the user’s account and change its password, thus locking the user out of their own social media account. After that, they can access your personal data, chats, change your account’s username and also exploit the verified account to trick and defraud other users.
However, if you are wondering how come celebrities fell prey to this scam, here’s the answer. In this case, the scammer even made sure that the link they sent has an “https” in the address bar, which generally indicates that the person is on a secure website.
What Do the Scammers Gain By Accessing These Accounts?
Scammers exploit social media accounts for numerous reasons. According to past observations, one of the primary reasons is selling personal information on the “dark net,” which is an unindexed Internet version that people can only access using the TOR (The Onion Router) software.
On the darknet, there are multitudes of websites that sell heaps of personal information such as debit and credit card details and passwords, which other cybercriminals buy to withdraw money from the accounts.
Likewise, there are a lot of people on the darknet interested in purchasing the details of the social media accounts of celebrities and public figures as it yields good money.
Moreover, after accessing these verified profiles, some scammers also go on to try and take money from other users on the following list by posing as the account owner.
How Can You Protect Yourself From This Instagram Copyright Infringement Scam? What if Someone Has Fallen Prey to It?
One of the best ways to protect yourself from falling prey to this Instagram scam is to be aware of it in the first place, which you do now. In case you receive any message on Instagram asking you to click on any links quoting copyright infringement, even if the sender has a verified profile titled “Help Center,” just delete the message right away and don’t reply to it. You may also get in touch with the Instagram Help Center if you still feel doubtful about it.
However, in case you have already clicked on one such phishing link and ended up losing access to your own account, you write to Instagram, providing proof of the details of your account and explaining how you got locked out of it in the first place. You may also inform the cyber police regarding this issue since this act contravenes the cyber laws.
Wrapping It Up
Cybercrimes are on the rise, and fraudsters are continually searching for new ways to hack into your accounts and gain access to your personal data. One such scam has emerged, namely, “Instagram Copyright Infringement Scam.” The scammers involved in this have paid attention to the minute details, which resulted in even celebrities and public figures falling prey to it. Social media users need to be smarter than ever and be careful with the information they put out on their accounts. Moreover, they should think twice or even thrice before clicking on any link regardless of whether it came from a verified profile or a random account asking you to claim your “reward.” Beware of phishing scams!