Police warn of Instagram account takeover scams

The police have warned that there are two variants of Instagram scams that have allowed scammers to hijack victims' accounts. PHOTO: PIXABAY

SINGAPORE - At least 110 people have reported being targets of scams involving the takeover of Instagram accounts this year.

In a media release on Monday evening, the police warned that two variants of such scams have duped victims into allowing scammers to hijack their Instagram accounts.

The first variant targets business accounts on Instagram, with scammers posing as potential customers.

After chatting with account owners through the direct message function, the scammers would claim they want to verify the identity of the owner before making payment.

They tell victims they would receive a message with a link from Instagram to confirm this, and ask that a screenshot of the message be taken and sent to them.

The scammers then trigger a password reset for the business account, which leads Instagram to automatically send victims an authentic password reset message.

Those who take a screenshot of this message and send it to the scammers would then find their accounts hacked and taken over.

In the second variant, potential victims would receive direct messages from unknown Instagram accounts asking them to participate in fake lucky draws with a chance to win money.

Victims are told they must change their Instagram log-in details to qualify, and to send their one-time passwords (OTPs) to the senders to verify their identities.

Those who did so soon found their accounts hacked and taken over.

Some of the hijacked accounts were later used by scammers to post investment-related scams, and to approach the original users’ followers to take part in the fake investments.

The public is advised to be wary of unknown accounts contacting them on social media and to never give out their personal details, account reset links or OTPs, even to friends and family.

Instagram users are also advised to set up two-factor authentication for their accounts.

Those with information on such crimes can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000, or submit a police report online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness

For more information on scams, the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline on 1800-722-6688.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.