With online scams reaching epidemic proportions, Instagram is just the latest channel for fraudsters to make a quick buck. With over 1 billion active monthly users, Instagram offers up a large, captive audience.
In a world where anonymity, bullying and catfishing are common, scams prey on internet users’ sympathy, fear or greed. Keep reading to see some of the most common hustles and how to protect yourself on social media.
2 people that I am close with has experienced their IG accounts hacked and then suddenly gone.
They followed all the suggestions IG dishes out 2 factor authentication request IG to get the account back etc….
A few bloggers and IG I know have been saying they are getting hacked, or their accounts are gone…poof vanished…..
One person had 130,000 followers another had 6,000 and one had 1100 , the 4th person had over1.2 million followers.
None could get their original account back that they had from the day they joined IG, so all content, photos now lost into the abyss or now in possession of a hacker.
All made new accounts after weeks of trying to get their accounts back.
Finally they made new ones
They one is up to 22,000 but her online jewelry business has suffered because now people cannot find her and she has suffered a loss of revenue.
2-3 don’t sell anything they raise awareness for chronic conditions….. now all that work gone….
The 4th person made a new account and in less than a month was back up to 45k followers not the 1.2 million they had but it was building back up fast. And suddenly now it’s gone again….
Is it hackers or haters?
How come IG is not helping or tracking these to find out why it’s happening!!!!
I feel so bad for them and I think 🤔 that authorities should be called and at least have a report made.
This is how people make their living selling products, being a social media influencer, modeling or they advocate for a cause etc….
Plus let’s not forget all the pictures, content they now lost!!
When will these companies stand up and help the patrons and influencer’s that bring money to their site?
Why is there no one to help them? They call they email they call they email over and over again….
It takes a long time to build a following and for it to be gone after years of work is just not right.
Have you experienced anything like this? How did you get your back? Are you an influencer or a IG employee who can help them get their accounts back?
Comment below or message me.
Also if you are new at social media don’t fall for all these scams and brands and watch the DMs.
Scam 1: Fake Brand Accounts
Rampant in the fashion industry, imposter brand accounts hawk goods and products across 65 million fake posts a year, according to data analysis firm Ghost Data. Bags, shoes and clothes are the most commonly faked products with luxury and high-end retailers like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Nike each having dozens of knock-off accounts. Other popular consumer brands like Apple have also been targeted.
What’s the Strategy of Fake Brand Accounts?
They promise exclusive discounts and freebies, but these fake accounts buy likes and followers and post consistently until their profiles seem like the real deal. The end game is to sell illegal counterfeit goods or use a bait-and-switch scam to change the profile topic completely once they have a captive audience.
How Common Are These Fake Accounts?
Nearly 20% of all posts about fashion products on Instagram feature counterfeit products and more than 50,000 accounts are promoting and selling counterfeit products every day, according to Ghost Data. This is up over 170% from 2016, rising dramatically as Instagram becomes a bigger player in the e-commerce space.
How To Avoid Fake Brand Accounts
If you decide to shop on social media, check the account carefully. Most real brands are verified. See what the URL links to and look for strange misspellings.
Be wary about what accounts are posting and how often. Is it all giveaways? Does it look professional? Use common sense and think twice when sellers offer expensive products for low prices or have strange payment terms or methods.
Scam 2: Companies Offering To Send You Free Followers or Likes
Influencers are paid by brands and companies to promote products on their social media profiles. It’s a highly lucrative business — the bigger and more engaged your audience, the higher the fees you can command.
Thus, “generous” companies offer to send you free or insanely cheap followers or likes in the hopes that you’ll purchase more. These accounts are promoted as being real, but most are fake automated accounts. Don’t fall for their gimmicks, some may be real….most are not.
Scam 2: Requests That Appear To Come From Instagram
If you receive an urgent email or direct message claiming to be from Instagram, don’t click the link. The message might claim your account has been compromised or that you’ve been approved for a coveted verification badge. Instead, it’s a phishing scam to get your login credentials.
You’ll be taken to a page to enter your email address and password, and then the hacker has everything needed to lock you out of your account. In extreme instances, some scammers threaten to blackmail you in exchange for returning your account.
How To Avoid This Phishing Scam
Be wary of any communication claiming to come from Instagram and use common sense verification services are never for sale.
Check the sender’s email address carefully. Enable two-factor authentication, which means that even if your password is compromised, you’ll need a secondary code to log on to your account for an extra layer of protection. It sounds like a pain in the ass but it’s another layer of protection.
Scam 3: Money Flipping or Investment Opportunities
Fake investment schemes are another popular online scam. Someone direct messages you, promising a big payout with minimal investment, maybe using all the right buzzwords like bitcoin or cryptocurrency. Using social media proof, they’ll show the returns of other individuals (sometimes even friends and family) who have made a lot of money in as fast as 24 hours.
How This Scam Plays Out
As soon as you send payment, the account ghosts you — keeping your investment and vanishing into thin air. Over $3 million have reportedly been stolen during 2018 and 2019 using this method, with the average victim being conned upwards of $10,000.
Stop being FOOZELED !SCAMMED!
How To Avoid This Money Scam
Quite simply, you can avoid it by not responding to requests for money from people you don’t know. Before sending anything, always check the credentials of the supposed financial company with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Scam 4: Fake Invitations To Work With Brands- Don’t BeA Mark For Scammers and Hackers
As one of the more elaborate Instagram cons in circulation, this one has hit hundreds of influencer’s and content creators. Someone reaches out, offering to hire you for a high-profile photo-shoot or campaign for a brand, but the offer isn’t real.
The victims invest big money to fly to distant, glamorous locations like Indonesia, lured by empty promises of getting reimbursed. Victims have also been asked to pay for things like drivers, translators and fixers. The game ends when the mark either figures it out or runs out of money.
How These Scammers Get Away With It
The scammers have done their homework. They’ve gathered the intricate details of your personal life to build a relationship with you and make the offer sound authentic and enticing.
Imposter emails claim to come from high-profile celebrities and investors like entrepreneur Wendi Murdoch to get you excited about the high-profile project. They even go as far as to provide itineraries and fake but detailed nondisclosure agreements. These scammers go to great lengths, including making several calls to you, to make the invitation seem legitimate.
How To Avoid These Fake Invitations
Trust your gut. Most of the victims say they ignored the red flags because it sounded like such a good opportunity. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Read all legal documents carefully for omissions and misspellings, ask for references, and think twice about any project that requires prepaying expenses up front.
Scam 5: Phishing by Direct Message
This scam has been gaining a lot of traction. You’ll get a direct message that claims to have seen your profile on a “hot” or “nasty” list. It implies that your photos are being used on some type of porn site.
When you click the link to check, you’re taken to what looks like a login page for Instagram. As soon as you input your password, the hackers have your account information, which they can use for whatever they like, including messaging others through your account.
How To Avoid This New Phishing Scam
Don’t click links from people you don’t know and always have two-factor authentication enabled. What might look like a legitimate hyperlink can easily be masked to send you to a criminal website.
How To Keep Yourself Safe From Instagram Scams
Crooks often combine new technology with old tricks to get people to send money or give out personal information, according to the FTC. But there are some practical ways to avoid becoming a victim.
Look carefully at messages for inconsistencies in email addresses or hyperlinks, spelling or grammar errors, bizarre requests and feigned urgency. Think twice about any link you click, vague and generic messages or requests for sensitive information.
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
I think my Instagram account has been hacked.Now What !!! Read below.
If you think your account has been hacked or taken over, there are several actions you may be able to take to secure your account. Some of these recovery steps may not be available to you depending on the type of account you’re trying to recover, but we recommend trying them all.
Check your email account for a message from Instagram
If you received an email from firstname.lastname@example.org letting you know that your email address was changed, you may be able to undo this change by selecting revert this change in that message. If additional information was also changed (example: your password), and you’re unable to change back your email address, request a login link or security code from Instagram
Request a login link from Instagram
To help us confirm that you own the account, you can request that we send a login link to your email address or phone number.
To request a login link:
- On the login screen, tap Get help logging in. (Android) or Forgot password?(iPhone).
- Enter the username, email address, or phone number associated with your account, then tap Next. Note: If you don’t know the username, email address, or phone number associated with your account, tap Need more help? below the Next button and follow the on-screen instructions.
- Select either your email address or phone number, then tap Send Login Link.
- Click the login link in your email or a text message (SMS) and follow the on-screen instructions.
Request a security code or support from Instagram
If you’re unable to recover your account with the login link we sent to you, you may be able to request support from us.
To request support from Instagram:
Instagram app for Android:
Instagram app for iPhone:
Be sure to enter a secure email address that only you can access. Once you’ve submitted your request, you should receive an email from Instagram with next steps.
Learn more about what you can do if you don’t know your username
Verify your identity
If you submitted a support request for an account without photos of you, you should receive an auto-response email from the Support Team at Facebook. We’ll ask you to help us verify your identity by providing the email address or phone number you signed up with and the type of device you used at the time of sign up (example: iPhone, Android, iPad, other).
If you request support for an account with photos of you, you’ll be asked to take a video selfie of you turning your head in different directions to help us check that you’re a real person and confirm your identity.
Once you submit the video selfie to help us verify your identity, you’ll receive an email from Instagram at the secure email address you provided.
Keep in mind that the video you submit will never be visible on Instagram and will be deleted within 30 days.
If we weren’t able to confirm your identity from the video you submitted, you can submit a new video and we’ll review it again.
If you’re still able to log into your Instagram account
If you think your account has been hacked or an attempt to hack your account has been made and you’re still able to log in, there are things you can do to help keep your account secure:
- Change your password or send yourself a password reset email.
- Turn on two-factor authentication for additional security.
- Confirm your phone number and email address in account settings are correct.
- Check Accounts Center and remove any linked accounts you don’t recognize.
- Revoke access to any suspicious third-party apps.
If you’re still having trouble accessing your account, we’d like to hear more about your experience so we can continue to improve our support options.
Fake IG accounts Suck In short, a fake Instagram account is one that’s not actually run by an individual human being. Some of these accounts are mass created by people; others are mass created by bots. Some are used to spam comments, likes, etc., while others are left dormant. Every social media provider is plagued by these fake accounts
Fake Instagram followers are an unavoidable reality of the platform.
For some people, they’re a nuisance that leaves silly comments. For others, they’re a quick way to boost their follower counts. But in both cases, fake Instagram followers are a much bigger issue than you think.
They can hurt you in the algorithm, damage your credibility, and even get you on Instagram’s bad side.
In this article, we’ll fill you in on how fake accounts could be hurting you, and tell you exactly how to clear your Instagram of fake followers for good.
- What’s a Fake Instagram Account? And How They Can Hurt You
- They Don’t Engage With Your posts
- They Hurt Your Credibility
- They Can Get You In Trouble With Instagram – And Even Banned
- They Skew Your Metrics
- They Can Hurt Your Marketing Budget
- 5 Ways to Spot Fake Instagram Followers
- Check Their Followers
- Calculate Their Engagement Rate
- Read The Comments They Make
- Evaluate Their Profile (Bio, Photo, Username)
- Look At Their Posts
- Take Stock Of The Account As A Whole
- These 3 Instagram Audit Tools Can Help You Identify Fake Followers
- Instagram Bot Analytics Tool
- Social Audit Pro
- How to Avoid Fake Instagram Followers
- Don’t Buy Followers
- Report Fake Followers
- Remove All Fake Followers From Your Account
What’s a Fake Instagram Account? And How They Can Hurt You
Before we get into the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of fake Instagram followers, let’s talk about the ‘what’.
In short, a fake Instagram account is one that’s not actually run by an individual human being. Some of these accounts are mass created by people; others are mass created by bots. Some are used to spam comments, likes, etc., while others are left dormant.
Every social media provider is plagued by these fake accounts. Twitter removes about 10 bot accounts per second, or more than 310 million per year.
Instagram has an estimated 95 million fake accounts. With a total userbase of around 1 billion, that means roughly 1 in 10 Instagram accounts are fake.
While the purpose of these accounts can differ from platform to platform, one of the most common ways they’re used on Instagram is to artificially boost follower numbers. Wannabe influencers or businesses seeking fast growth buy Instagram followers by the thousands – and those followers are all bots.
Little do they know, these fake followers don’t actually help their account. In fact, they could be hurting it. And unfortunately, even perfectly legitimate brands that don’t buy followers can be affected.
Here are the top 5 reasons fake Instagram followers could be a problem for you.
They Don’t Engage With Your posts
Fake Instagram followers might leave a comment or send a few likes your way immediately after following. But this almost never lasts.
In the long term, they’re not going to engage with your posts.
“Well, so what, not every follower leaves comments, right?” Except your engagement rate is calculated by the number of likes you get in relation to the number of followers you have.
Ex. 100 likes per post / 5,000 followers = 2% an engagement rate.
The better that rate is, the better Instagram thinks your account is, and the more it favors you in its algorithm. In short, each fake Instagram follower that doesn’t engage is driving your rate down further, which hurts your profile’s overall visibility.
They Hurt Your Credibility
Some people will simply look at your raw follower, like, or comment numbers and be impressed.
But more savvy Insta users – and smart consumers, in general – won’t be. They’ll notice if your 10,000+ follower account is only attracting a measly 50 likes photo. And if they see that your follower list is filled with fake accounts and your posts are littered with generic spam comments, they’ll start to lose trust in your brand.
“Social proof is one of the most powerful tools for increasing your reach and your sales. But fake, inauthentic social proof will do the opposite.”
They Can Get You In Trouble With Instagram – And Even Banned
Instagram doesn’t like fake accounts either.
And while it’s basically impossible for them to stop fake Instagram accounts from being created in the first place, they do moderate them aggressively, removing them as they find them. And if you have too many fake followers – especially if moderators think you buy Instagram followers or use other banned tools – it could get your account in trouble.
This could lead to your account being limited, suspended, or even banned. Not only is that a good reason not to buy Instagram followers, it’s why you should purge your Instagram of fake followers in general.
They Skew Your Metrics
The best social media marketers know thepower of metrics.
When used correctly, Instagram analytics can tell you what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and even help you identify new opportunities for growth.
But having too many fake followers can make your data harder to analyze, if not render it completely useless. After all, how can you calculate your actual engagement, conversion, or click-through rates if you don’t know your real follower count?
They Can Hurt Your Marketing Budget
This last point applies less to your own account, and more to “influencer” accounts that use fake followers to boost their perceived status.
On average, paying to have an influencer market your products or brand can be very effective, pulling in average returns of $5 dollars or more on each dollar spent. And yet25% of businesses either break even or lose money on influencer marketing.
Why? Because they’re paying influencers that don’t actually have any influence.
In other words, knowing how to weed through fake Instagram followers won’t just help your own account, it’ll help you sort through the real and fake influencers in your market as well.
5 Ways to Spot Fake Instagram Followers
Now that you know what fake Instagram followers are and why they’re a problem, you probably want to get rid of them. Good idea.
But to do that, first we have to find them. And there are two main ways to do that:
- Using your own Instagram detective skills
- Using an Instagram audit tool
We’ll start by showing you how to spot them yourself. And if that doesn’t work – or you just want to save some time – we’ll recommend some of the best audit tools in the next section.
Check Their Followers
One of the quickest ways to spot a fake Instagram is by looking at their following to follower ratio.
Because these accounts are often automated, they’ll rack up crazy ‘following’ numbers. Some even hit the maximum limit of 7,500.
Meanwhile, they only have a small number of followers themselves. Of course, this doesn’t mean every newbie Instagramer who follows 100 more accounts than follow them is a bot.
But wildly imbalanced ratios, like 4,000 following to 500 followers, is usually a sign the account is fake.
Calculate Their Engagement Rate
As we highlighted above, fake accounts don’t engage. And this also applies to fake accounts whose own followers are fake.
So, if you see an account that has 1,000 followers but gets less than 5 likes per post, or some similarly low number, this could be an indication that they’re fake. At minimum, it tells you that their followers are fake.
Read The Comments They Make
Another telltale sign of fake Instagram followers is the comments they make.
You know the ones: “good pic”, “nice job”, or simply “wow” or a couple emojis. That’s not to mention the more blatant spam comments, which are especially prevalent under the photos of big accounts.
There are three main things that can separate these fake comments from those made by real people:
- Not relevant to the actual photo
- Grammar or spelling mistakes
Of course, not all fake comments are so easy to spot – and not all generic comments are necessarily fake. But they’re definitely a top sign of fake Instagram accounts.
By the way, if you’re guilty of leaving these kinds of comments, can we suggest you step your engagement marketing game up? Just kidding. But really.
Evaluate Their Profile (Bio, Photo, Username)
When you’re selling 1,000 fake Instagram followers for as little as $12.99, you’re not going to take the time to create accounts with real photos, engaging bios, and unique posts.
Instead, these services focus on slapping accounts up as quickly as possible, with the most generic info they can get away with.
Fortunately for us, this makes them easier to spot. And there are three common giveaways.
Profile pic: Fake Instagram accounts usually have no profile pic, a generic stock photo, or a photo of something that’s not a person, like a beach or a duck.
Bio: Your typical Instagram bio is personable and describes who or what the person or service is. On the other hand, fake Instagram followers will either have no bio or one that’s very generic, contains random promotions, or doesn’t match the content of their posts.
Username: When creating an Instagram account, if you try to enter a username that’s already taken, you’ll get suggestions for the same name with a bunch of numbers tacked on. Now, your average person isn’t thrilled by the thought of being @joe235456932480234, especially because that’s a very hard username to remember. “Hey, add me at joe2354…” – you get the picture.
But fake account creators don’t care. And in fact, this saves them a lot of time, since they don’t have to bother with coming up with more unique usernames.
So, these number-filled usernames can be a giveaway for fake Instagram followers.
But there are two other things to check for, especially if the account is claiming to be a celebrity: Is the account verified? And are there any slight misspellings in the username?
No, the @taylorswiff account with 537 followers that’s following you isn’t the real Taylor Swift. Sorry we had to be the ones to tell you.
You could also evaluate the accounts held by the same company/person on other social networks. If they are doing well on Instagram, they should have well set up profiles with decent followings elsewhere.
To find the social media accounts you can use a tool such as Signal Hire. It lets you launch a plugin & find anyone’s contact details in a click. It will find various other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. It will also locate other details such as email addresses and phone numbers.
Want to organically grow your Instagram and gain REAL followers?
Look At Their Posts
Finally, we come to their actual posts. Again, these fake account creators don’t have the time to populate their spam profiles with lots ofengaging, unique content.
Instead, you’ll usually see one (or all) of these four things:
- Posts that are mostly promotional
- Posts that offer fake discounts or deals
- Posts that don’t fit the bio/profile pic
- Posts made very close together in time
In the latter case, their strategy is usually to throw up a handful of posts as soon as they make the account, often within hours of each other – and then never post again.
So, if you see a profile that made 5 posts within a couple days, then hasn’t posted anything since then, that could be a sign that it’s fake.
Take Stock Of The Account As A Whole
As we’ve hinted at already, just because someone has a few numbers in their username or a photo of their dog as their profile photo doesn’t mean they’re a fake account.
So, the tips above should be applied as a whole, rather than as individual steps.
This doesn’t mean you have to study each account like a cold case detective though. Once you know what to look for and have practiced it a few times, you’ll be able to assess an account’s pic, bio, follower count, and posts in a glance and have a good idea on whether it’s a real or fake Instagram follower.
But if you still can’t quite tell – or you simply don’t have the time to go through all your followers – the Instagram audit tools below can help.
These 3 Instagram Audit Tools Can Help You Identify Fake Followers
There are several good Instagram audit tools out there, ranging from totally free tools that will tell you what percentage of followers are fake, to paid tools that will even remove fake followers for you.
Instagram Bot Analytics Tool
This free tool will use your engagement rates to give you an estimate on what percentage of your follower are fake. From there, you can sign up to get more information on the quality of your audience.
Again, it’s completely free, but it only works on accounts with over 1,000 followers.
FakeCheck is a very similar tool to the above, using your engagement rates to figure out how many fake followers you have.
However, it can be used on accounts with less than 1,000 followers; but it’s not free. You have to buy $1 credits to use it.
Social Audit Pro
If you’re serious about getting ridding your Instagram of fake followers as quickly and efficiently as possible, then this is definitely the Instagram audit tool you want.
Why? Because Social Audit Pro will actually analyze each of your followers, separating them into good, dormant, somewhat suspicious, and highly suspicious tiers. It’ll also give you tons of other details about your followers, from the ratio of businesses to regular users that follow you, to what percentage of your followers are male/female.
From there, you can actually use their Follower Cleanup tool to remove or block the suspicious or ghost followers en masse.
Or, rather than purging the fake Instagram accounts all at once, you can set a certain number to be removed per hour or per 24 hours.
This is definitely the most expensive Instagram audit tool. Auditing 10,000 followers will cost you $10, and there’s a one-time fee of $30 for the Follower Cleanup tool, which includes unlimited uses and accounts.
But if you have more than a few hundred followers, Social Audit Pro will save you hours of time.
How to Avoid Fake Instagram Followers
Now that we’ve rooted them out of hiding, it’s time to actually rid your Instagram of fake followers. Here’s how.
Don’t Buy Followers
Repeat after us: I. Do. Not. Buy. Instagram. Followers.
Don’t do it. It’s simply a waste of money. There are no real advantages – and many drawbacks, as we covered above. And no, you can’t buy real followers.
However, if you still want to increase your Instagram presence but don’t have the time or know-how, there is an answer: try Kicksta! Kicksta is an entirely organic growth tool. Not only do we NOT buy fake followers, we don’t use other spammy methods either, like mass following/unfollowing or automated comments.
Instead, you’ll give us a list of target Instagram accounts that already have the type of followers you’re trying to attract. These can be complementary brands, competitors, influencers in your niche, or other similar profiles.
Kicksta will then ‘like’ 1 or 2 photos from each user that follows these accounts, shooting for around 10,000 likes per month. That means 5 to 10,000 profiles will be notified about your likes – and many will then check out your page. And hopefully, since they already like similar content, they’ll decide to follow you too.
What’s the catch? Unlike when you buy Instagram followers, because our methods are organic, we can’t guarantee you a specific number of followers. But we can assure you that you will see growth, and that’ll it’ll be from real people, with real interest in your niche, not fake accounts.
We even offer a 14-day money back guarantee.
So, if you’re serious about growing your brand, try Kicksta today!
“With Kicksta, we’re able to see the impact they have on our Instagram account based on the engagement they drive, most of which we would not be able to do on our own.”.
Ryan and Andrew Beltran
Want to organically grow your Instagram and gain REAL followers?
Report Fake Followers
One surefire way to clear your Instagram of fake followers is by reporting them. Usually, their account will be removed pretty quickly.
To do this, simply follow these steps:
- Find the profile you want to report
- Tap the three dots at the top right of their profile (on iOS or Android)
- Hit ‘Report’
And boom, you’re done. Now, just sit back and wait for that sweet Insta justice.
Remove All Fake Followers From Your Account
If you simply want the fake followers gone and don’t care about reporting them, there’s a slightly faster way to do it.
Here’s the cheaper (but more time-consuming) way:
1. Use the Instagram Bot Analytics Tool or FakeCheck.co to identify the percentage of fake followers.
2. Use the tips described above to find individual fake followers.
3. While looking at your follower list, tap the ‘Remove’ button to the right of the fake follower.
And here’s the more expensive (but way faster) version:
1. Use Social Audit Pro to identify your suspicious followers.
2. Use the Follower Cleanup tool to choose exactly which followers you want removed or blocked.
By now, you should have a better understanding of why fake Instagram followers are such a problem for your business, along with practical steps to give them the boot. While organic growth is a lot slower than buying followers, it’s a much more effective long-term strategy.
What are your thoughts on fake Instagram followers? Let ne know in the comments. And if you liked this article, make sure to give it a share. Thanks