Woman’s Instagram ID Stolen, Customers Lose Thousands of Dollars


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A Washougal esthetician warned small business owners about social media security after her business Instagram account was hacked – leaving her clients thousands of dollars.

Irina Melnichenko, owner of Beauty brand, told KOIN 6 News that running your business is not only a way to make a living, but also a way to give back. Melnichenko offers free skin care services to women in difficult circumstances, including single mothers who can make ends meet or victims of domestic violence.

Irina Melnichenko was banned from her own Instagram account after hackers instituted 2-factor authentication and started contacting clients on November 15, 2021 (KOIN)

“I offer a 90 minute free facial and it’s kind of like a way of letting them know they’re not alone – it’s just that I give my time fully without asking for anything in return. And so, the people who follow my account trust me, and it took me many years to build that trust, ”Melnichenko said.

According to Melnichenko, hackers have relied on that trust to prey on her customers who follow her on Instagram.

On Sunday, his account was hacked. The hacker (s), pretending to be Melnichenko, boasted that they made a lot of money, and also offered ways for others to earn money.

“They started posting that I had invested in cryptocurrency or crypto mining, and I put in a thousand dollars and got $ 10,000 in 20 minutes and they posted it in my flow, “said Melnichenko.

Melnichenko said two of his clients fell into the trap and were swindled out of $ 2,000.

Another client lost $ 3,000. Melnichenko said that cybercriminals are not just looking for money – they are also trying to hack users’ Instagram accounts.

“What they do is they say, ‘all we need you to do is send your Cash app information and phone number and then we’ll send you a link “. And then when you get this link, send the link to us. And then that will be how we are going to put the money in your Cash App, ”explained Melnichenko.

“But what they’re actually doing is trying to access your Instagram account,” Melnichenko said.

Melnichenko noted that the crooks had a sinister method of deceiving his supporters.

“They come in and they sort of study your behavior, the verbiage you use, they continue the conversation. Like I had my sister, they wrote to her, “Hey, I love you” and it goes on like it’s me, “Melnichenko said.

Melnichenko reported the hack to the police and the FBI and said she had not heard from law enforcement.

She has created another Instagram account and is trying to reach her followers through that account to let them know about the scam.

Cybercrime is on the rise – up to 70% from 2019 to 2020, according to the FBI.

Phishing scams, such as the one described by Melnichenko, were among the top three types reported.


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