On Sunday (13 March 2022) my Instagram account, cavanaghcreative*, was hacked; through my own fault in responding to a message of help from another acquaintance on Instagram and for not seeking proper outside advice (ie. my IT-expert father) as to whether this message was legitimate or not. It almost certainly wasn’t legit.
I don’t know how, but somehow through interacting with the (as yet unknown) hacker gave them a way or permission to kick me out of my own account and change both the phone number, email address and password; and thus, totally remove any future ability on my part to regain the account.
It was 3 days later, on the Wednesday (16 March 2022), that a friend texted me with the conformation that I was hacked. They had received the exact same message as I had, but this time it was using my Instagram profile to do its dirty trickery. (see image below).
Thankfully I never linked my Instagram messages to Facebook Messenger; I have no idea how much worse this whole fiasco could have been if I had.
From an email from a fellow artist on Instagram, I learnt that my Instagram Stories [short videos] had been taken over by content promoting Bitcoin**, just like my acquaintance’s account had started doing in the weeks before I received/responded to the fake message.
Thus began a very trying time for me that lasted the remainder of the week, and following weekend, to twice try and confirm my identity/ownership of cavanaghcreative to Instagram through their Instagram Selfie-ID system.
Which from my personal experience I can say, in the most polite way possible, ain’t worth a cracker.
Yes, I have grown a beard [which shouldn’t really matter with facial recognition] since my profile picture was taken, which for the record actually is a photo of me — not a puppy or an oblique, black and white arty photograph, but an actual, front on, photograph of my face, in colour. (And yes, even just writing about this is enough to make my blood boil again.)
And furthermore, there is/was a photo (or two) of myself taken with other human beings on my Instagram page, which to any other reasonable layman should have been more than enough telemetry/bio-data for Instagram (or parent company Facebook) to check against the two Selfie-videos I sent them to confirm my identity as the legitimate owner of the hacked account, cavanaghcreative.
During this time I proceeded to the best of my abilities to warn family, friends and general acquaintances through texts, messaging apps, and posts on both Facebook and Twitter, that:
— my Instagram was Hacked;
— NOT to respond to any private Instagram messages from me (ie. cavanaghcreative);
— if they themselves were on Instagram, to please flag the account as being Hacked/Spam;
— and to unfollow cavanaghcreative and Block it from contacting them in future.
On 21 March 2022 I received information that my former account was no longer "public" or found via Instagram’s search functionable. It was also devoid of any 'posts' or 'follower' number (see image above).
Either everyone flagging cavanaghcreative as a fake account finally got through to Instagram, or the constant barrage of reporting put the hacker off. Sadly, I just don’t know. Hopefully the hacker hasn’t just left cavanaghcreative as a trojan Private Account; but again, I don’t know.
I would like to thank those who did flag the account as hacked and hopefully stopped any more people from getting hacked through my own personal mistake, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other account for this hacker or many others to keep on tricking people.
So, with that in mind, and given that I have no wish to give Instagram the satisfaction of my creating another account† just for them to inflate their subscription/member numbers, I have taken the step of removing myself from Instagram.
As of 13 March 2022, I am no longer on Instagram. The app has also been obliterated from my smartphone.
For the foreseeable future I will now be focusing my energies on posting content to this blog, not on social media. Which on reflection is probably a good thing, given how (cough cough) irregularly I’ve been posting on here up until now.
Until next time, God bless, stay safe and avoid any badly worded messages or emails.
~ Vincent Cavanagh, 29 March 2022.
* To the best of my ability I have removed all links to cavanaghcreative, on Instagram, from this website and other social media profiles.
** I have never joined, been a part of, or promoted Bitcoin, and I never intend to. If you see any of my accounts start promoting such twaddle, know that that account has been hacked and proceed accordingly.
† As far as I could find out, unless you happen to be a world-famous celebrity or have taken your story to a tv news outlet, the only real advice that Instagram gives in these situations where you cannot regain access to the account is to just make another Instagram account. Hardly what a layperson might call “consumer care”. And I most certainly did not want to have go through talking to their robot-helpline.
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