Watch out for scammers using fake Instagram profiles

Posted at 6:58 AM, Feb 23, 2023

Do you follow any celebrities or influencers on social media? If so, have you ever double-checked to make sure it's the real person you're following?

Fake accounts pop up on Instagram all the time, and some of the scammers behind them are out to get you.

LeAnn Henri is a metro Detroit realtor and influencer who has racked up about 40,000 followers on Instagram. But she's extremely frustrated by scammers who create fake accounts posing as her.

The fakes will use her same profile picture and identical posts, then make subtle changes in her username. Once active, they block Henri so she can't see them. But, thankfully, she gets alerts from her followers.

“This is the typical message that [a follower will] send. ‘Good morning. Someone opened another fake account as you. It has two underscores in between [your first and last name]. I reported it,'" Henri told us.

A fake page even popped up recently posing as me, copying my bio and some of my content. The page had a different profile picture than mine, fewer posts and followers, and spelled my first name with 2 Ls instead of one — "Allicia."

The fakes are a potential problem for people because the scammers will often slip into the messages of the influencer's followers and trick them into clicking links to malware, giving out personal information, or draining your bank account.

Melanie Duquesnel, the President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Michigan, said the first step to protecting your page from getting hacked is to set up two-factor authentication.

The first step in fighting fake profiles is to report them to Instagram. Just click the three dots in the top right of the post or profile, and select "report." Then follow the on-screen instructions.

How can you tell it's a fake?

“Well, there's a couple of old school tactics to look at — how's the grammar? Have you seen that picture a hundred times before? Were you expecting any direct messaging from that influencer?” Duquesnel said.

Red flags include talking about cryptocurrency, attempting to sell you something, telling you a sob story about needing money, or trying to romance you.

“Just report it. Report it right away. Go to the page, report it, and do not communicate with them. Don't message them. Don't click any outside links, anything like that. Just report it right away and block them," Henri said.

Social media companies periodically purge fake accounts from their platforms, and Instagram said in its Help Center, if someone you know is being impersonated, please encourage that person to report it.

Instagram also allows you to report a post or profilefor a long list of offenses, including scams or fraud, false information, selling illegal or regulated goods, and more.

You can also report scams to the BBB Scam Tracker.