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The social media world has entirely taken over our lives. These days, our first instinct is to post that delicious-looking dish on Instagram whenever we go out to eat or to show-off that beautiful outfit we wore on the eve. Broadcasting our lives on social media has become an everyday affair, be it for entertainment, publicity, or business purposes. Imagine one day we find out that all our private information is being sold off to the dark spheres under the fake umbrella of copyright infringement. Well, it is not just an imagination for those who have fallen prey to this scam.
For the past few weeks, numerous renowned personalities, as well as acclaimed business accounts, became a victim of this so-called ‘Instagram Copyright Infringement Scam’. In fact, Bollywood celebrities including Urmila Matondkar, Vikrant Massey, Ameesha Patel, and legendary singer Asha Bhonsle couldn’t escape this malice by fraudsters. Not just that, even the official account of Grand Hyatt fell into the clasps of this notorious con.
All this started with a sender posing as Instagram Help Center sending a direct message to these users claiming that he or she is an executive, directly associated with Instagram. It looked like that the message which read as “Hello Instagram User, we have received many complaints about your account for a long time. We wanted to inform you about this. Before you delete your account, some of the posts you posted are against our community guidelines. If you think the copyright infringement statement is false, you must provide feedback. Otherwise, your account will be permanently deleted from the platform within 72 hours”, was from Instagram’s official Copyright Infringement Center. Any person of average intellect would not have doubted the authenticity of the sender and therefore, neither did the celebs. Just below what has been called a copyright infringement scam, the URL to the Copyright Appeal Form was attached, with a message stating “Don’t forget to contact us after confirming your account. Make sure you fill in the information correctly. Thank you for your understanding.”
The URL redirected the phishing victims to a form wherein private details of the users were required to be filled. As I mentioned earlier, the illusion of the copyright form appeared so authentic, it was almost impossible to declare it a fake one.
The duped celebrities brought up this issue to their Twitter handles alerting other users against this phishing attack. The act was brought to the attention of the Maharashtra Government’s Cyber Cell. Cyber expert, Ritesh Bhatia issued a public warning against the same and exclaimed, “Hackers are not just gaining access to celebrity accounts but also of any user with a large number of followers. The idea of these hackers is to sell these hacked accounts on the dark web.”