Australian surf influencer Blaze Roberts has slammed Instagram, saying the social media giant allowed hackers to take over her account and squash her source of income.
The 18-year-old athlete claims a group of hackers sent her a phishing email using Instagram’s branding, asking her to verify the account.
They then took over both Ms Roberts’ email and social media account and began posting sexually explicit images to her 40,000 followers.
The influencer told A Current Affair that when she regained control of her email, she found photos of the hackers in her sent messages folder.
Instagram policy is to ask its users to prove their identity by sending a photo of themselves to the security team holding a piece of paper with the code they’ve been asked to write down.
The hackers had followed this process when they took over Ms Roberts’ account, revealing a bearded man and a strawberry blonde woman.
“For some reason Instagram didn’t think it was concerning that three people had sent them different photos,” Ms Roberts told A Current Affair.
The teenage surfer is still yet to gain access to her Instagram account despite contacting the social media giant on numerous occasions.
“I kept messaging Instagram with screenshots and photos to try and send them the proof and they kept saying they didn’t have enough proof and they didn’t know what I was talking about,” she said.
The hackers still have control of her account, Ms Roberts said, and posts of pornographic material continue to be shared on her behalf.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever sent my address to a friend, I don’t know if I’ve ever sent my bank details to someone I know. So, the fact that they have access to that information is terrifying.”
“Whether you have 100 followers of you have 100,000, this is scary to anyone.”
Technology Expert Trevor Long told the program hackers tend to target influencers chasing a ransom in return for control of their valuable accounts.
“There’s either a ransom going to be asked for to get the account back, they’re going to scam her followers by getting their information or asking them for money,” he said.
“Or they might be posting things that are going to send her followers to other places.”