A few weeks ago, friends of Winnipegger Holly St. Pierre asked her if she had a new Instagram account — one that asked her followers to pay for adult content and subscribe to watch adult videos online. direct.
“I clicked on the profile and I was like, oh my god, no. That’s not me,” said St. Pierre, who doesn’t create adult content.
“I [saw] the stories and they try to sell some porn,” she said.
Photos were stolen from his original account by an impostor, apparently to get money from his followers in exchange for adult content they claimed was from Saint-Pierre.
“It was all close-ups of… things not even intelligible. You couldn’t even tell [who or what it was].”
It was not the first time that Saint-Pierre had to deal with an impostor. In September, someone created a fake Instagram account with her photos and asked her friends to subscribe to a paid adult content website. St. Pierre reported the account to Instagram and it was deleted.
She primarily uses Instagram to post personal content about her life, her dog, and her fitness journey.
St. Pierre made his account private after the latest incident, but recently decided to make his settings public. She said she thinks enough time has passed that she doesn’t have to worry about more fake accounts.
But the events of September repeated themselves. This time, however, the fake account was not deleted.
More sophisticated scams
Professor Ryan Clement of the University of Winnipeg, who works in the department of speech, writing and communication, said scams like this have become more sophisticated. People no longer need to take a specific action, like clicking on a suspicious link, to become a target.
“One thing to do is to always make sure…OK, does this sound like the person they’re talking about? Does this sound like something they would do? Often [scams are] good now, especially with software that allows you to imitate voices, and soon to imitate faces as well,” Clement said.
Clément advises people who have their photos taken to do a reverse image search, and to contact the websites directly to ask them to remove them.
Andrea Bose is a former model who loved to share photos of her shoots on social media, until a fake account targeted her content.
“I was getting text messages from friends. What happened was [someone] took all my photos, my biography, pretty much everything,” Bose said.
“They put a link to [an adult content] website asking people to register and subscribe to live videos.”
Bose reported the account, but Instagram ended up deleting his original account. Bose’s copier account is still on Instagram.
She filed a report with Winnipeg police, but because the person who stole her photos was likely from overseas, they said there was not much they could do.
“I decided to create a new account and add my friends. And instead of having, you know, photos of models, I have a photo of my dogs. Just try to protect me in the future .”
Little recourse for scammers
When Clement learned that St. Pierre and Bose had failed with Instagram, he wasn’t surprised.
“This is definitely an issue that Instagram needs to work more to fix. They need to be better, I think, to make sure there’s more transparency and authenticity between who’s actually on the account and who’s working. on this account,” he said.
CBC reached out to Instagram communications for comment, but no response was immediately received.
On its help page, Instagram writes that it takes security seriously and encourages users to report accounts impersonating themselves.
Organizations like the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center and Cybertip can help victims of online scams, but since many cases don’t happen locally, it’s hard for people to get recourse. Clement said it’s often difficult to determine where the scam came from.
Winnipeg police said they were taking reports and reviewing the circumstances to see if there was anything they could do locally.
“Typically, the actors who commit these online offenses are based outside of Canada’s borders. Additionally, these types of frauds are often perpetrated against Canadians across the country – not just specific to Winnipeg,” the service said. police in a press release.
They suggest that the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center is “better placed to respond and provide advice.”
However, the center said while they assist citizens, businesses, law enforcement and governments, they do not investigate breaches.
“We share information with law enforcement agencies and investigators in Canada and abroad. Unfortunately, the CAFC cannot comment on investigations because the CAFC does not investigate.”
St. Pierre said people she knows are still following the fake account, including close family friends.
“It makes me a little disappointed, I’m not going to lie,” St. Pierre said.
Today, his account settings have been made private again. She doesn’t see herself changing any time soon.
“I have to feel comfortable not having [my account] duplicated again,” she said.