/ Money

Scam alert: Instagram ‘copyright violation’ message

We’ve been sent a copy of an Instagram phishing direct message that claims a copyright violation has been detected on your account. Here’s what to look out for.

A believable message pretending to be from Instagram’s help centre threatens to close your account if you don’t hand over personal information.

But the message is a phishing scam that you should delete and ignore.

The direct message, sent to private inboxes on the photo sharing app, warns that one of your posts has infringed copyright law.

It threatens that as a result, your account will be closed within 24 hours if you don’t dispute the ‘breach’ by following a link. Here’s what it looks like:

Why it’s so convincing

We’ve heard from a few people who thought the message was genuine, and we can see why. First, the fraudulent account uses the official Instagram company logo.

The tone and layout of the message make it sound formal and serious.

Guide: how to spot a social media scam

The message is also signed off with the real address of Instagram’s Californian HQ, which gives a false impression of authenticity.

How you can tell it’s fake

The account name ‘Instagramsupportcf’ rings alarm bells. In fact, Instagram contacts its users about account information or account issues over email, not through private message on the platform.

As with many similar scams we’ve seen, the message is also written in a strange way and contains a number of grammatical errors.

You can take a look at our guide to spotting scams to find out more giveaways that a message you’ve received might not be what it seems.

Instagram told us that it’s investigating the account behind the scam messages and intends to tackle the problem.

Have you received this message? Have you been sent any other scams to your Instagram account? We’d like to hear about your experiences in the comments.


Comments
leonard Goodfellow says:
20 June 2020

Is it not time for banking rules to be amended so as to stop large sums of money being deposited and withdrawn almost simultaneously.?
This would enable victims to spot the fraud and banks to chase where the money had gone to before the scammer could withdraw the cash.
It seems frequently the scammers account is emptied as soon as the money goes in making it almost impossible for the scammer to be traced.
A ” cooling off ” period of 7 days would make it more difficult for the thief to run off with the money.

Leonard – I think the real problem is the ease with which criminals seem to be able to open multiple bank accounts to use as channels for money diverted by fraudulent activity.

Many large purchases, such as houses, cars, holidays, etc, depend on the transfer of large or very large sums into an account which then has to be transferred out to complete the purchase or settle with other parties.

Which? does not, or cannot, reveal what happens next in the Instagram scam other than saying it is a phishing scam – presumably its purpose is to get certain details from the target that will enable access to their bank account(s). There are two defences against that that customers can take: first, do not keep excessive balances in a current account, and second keep savings and investment funds in accounts at different banks or savings institutions.

I am always wary of any e-mail or telephone message that says something bad will happen within twenty-four hours. What if you are away and do not see the e-mail? What if you had not answered the phone but the clock was still ticking [allegedly]? Setting up false deadlines is a technique to panic people into acting impulsively or out of character.

There are plenty of clues in the example shown in the Intro that would cast doubt in the reader’s mind about its authenticity but the scammer’s art is to suspend the person’s disbelief and frighten them into clicking on a link and following the instructions. Many people might be genuinely worried about losing their Instagram account so they fall for the scam – although Which? have not said whether that has actually happened. The ‘few people’ they ‘heard from who thought the message was genuine’ told Which? about it so presumably they did not act upon it.

Mr Francis John Lewis says:
29 June 2020

If the money you have transferred to another bank and the fraudster withdraws it then why can’t that bank be responsible for any loss. It seems to me that it must be because that bank hasn’t done the proper (and I mean PROPER) checks to verify the account holder. Therefore should be their loss.
And another check would be for any transfer of a large amount of money that is not usual for that customer to be either held for a time so that the correct recipient can have time to reveal that they haven’t received it. Also what is wrong with the bank automatically notifying the parties that this sum of money is being transferred so that they can follow the transaction and halt it if there is a discrepancy .

Francis – The problem is that these payments have been authorised by the payer quoting an account number and sort code number. The weakness in the system is that currently it does not require verification of the exact name of the account holder; that is coming, one day, but there seem to be a number of hitches, partly because payers do not always know the true name in which the payee’s account is registered [many organisations have numerous accounts]. Unfortunately it appears that fraudsters can also open accounts in a plausible similar name.

I am sure the banks will never give way on the principle that it is always the customer’s responsibility to ensure that they have given the correct details for transferring money via the Faster Payments Service – which is regarded as a more expedient and reliable method than issuing cheques.

The advice to customers is not to change the destination of a money transfer without authenticating it with the payee directly even if the ‘instruction’ purported to come from the payee. The new process, when it is implemented, will no doubt make life more difficult for scammers and stop many wrongful transfers, but errors will continue to arise so customers must remain continually vigilant and double check everything. The larger the amount involved the more care the payer must take and a trial transfer for a new payee is recommended.

Why can’t there be a sustained effort made for the Government to adopt permanent summer time. Especially like during the war when more daylight helped business and construction trades. Must be even more important right now in helping the country get back on it’s feet. I love my country so I am very proud of it. So, Mr Government, do something useful for it.

I have just made a payment using the Faster Payments Service through on-line banking and noticed that the Nationwide Building Society has posted details of how their new Confirmation of Payee process is going to work.

In some cases it might be necessary to amend the account details of existing listed payees so that the names accord with the names on the account.

It will also be necessary to indicate whether the payee is a personal or a business account. For a personal account, the full first and last names of the account holder will be required [not abbreviations or nick names]. For a business account the full name of the business corresponding to the account concerned will be required.

The system will indicate whether there is a match, a close match, not a match, or if the name is unrecognised. There are various steps and additional checks depending on the information supplied.

Some procedures are still under development.

Sam says:
9 July 2020

My business instagram account received a message the same like this this morning from an account named Istagaramcoprtesy. I used my personal account to fill in the link it gave and was warned to not change any information.

Sam says:
9 July 2020

My business instagram account received a message the same like this this morning from an account named Istagaramcoprtesy. I used my personal account to fill in the link it gave and was warned to not change any information.

It can be straightforward to avoid phishing scams. Simply NEVER EVER click a link in the email or message. Always go straight to your bank’s website and login from there. If there’s a problem with your account it’ll be shown after you’ve logged in. Easy to do, but also equally easy to click a link without thinking. I admit to occasionally having done that. But never to have provided bank details to such a link. But the scams are getting more sophisticated. It’s becoming more difficult to spot them. I have a very large number of email addresses that my Outlook rules simply transfer straight to the Deleted bin without even showing me the content. If there’s a mistake, I’m sure the senders will find another way to contact me. (The easiest scams to spot are the ones from organizations that I don’t have an account with)

Martin says:
25 September 2020

Received today on my business instagram account
Account:
@copyrightforglobal
fb-support-center.com
No followers and no posts

Help Center
Hello, Dear User

A copyright violation has been detected in a post on your account. If you think copyright infringement is wrong, you should provide feedback. Otherwise, your account will be closed within 24 hours. You can give feedback from the link below. Thank you for your understanding.

๐—™๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—บ: fb-support-center.com

๐“๐ก๐š๐ง๐ค ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ,
๐ˆ๐ง๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ ๐ซ๐š๐ฆ ๐“๐ž๐š๐ฆ

ยฉ ๐Ÿ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ๐ŸŽ ๐ฅ๐ง๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ ๐ซ๐š๐ฆ ๐‹๐‹๐‚, ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ”๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ ๐€๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ก๐ข๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐š๐ญ๐ซ๐ž ๐๐š๐ซ๐ค๐ฐ๐š๐ฒ, ๐Œ๐จ๐ฎ๐ง๐ญ๐š๐ข๐ง ๐•๐ข๐ž๐ฐ, ๐‚๐€ ๐Ÿ—๐Ÿ’๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ‘, ๐”๐’๐€ ๐๐š๐ซ๐ค๐ฐ๐š๐ฒ, ๐Œ๐จ๐ฎ๐ง๐ญ๐š๐ข๐ง ๐•๐ข๐ž๐ฐ, ๐‚๐€ ๐Ÿ—๐Ÿ’๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ‘, ๐”๐’๐€

I got one of these on my business account too. Iโ€™m a small business and will be devastated if it gets deleted. Did you account ever actually get deleted? Thank you

This apparently verified and huge (private) account is sending very similar direct messages out as an โ€˜Instagramโ€™ account complete with logo: [@ ]Juanferraracocina. A friend was almost convinced. We reported the account for Impersonation โ€˜of Instagramโ€™ and Spam but the report reply said it would not be removed as it doesnโ€™t breach community guidelines. What?! Rather odd and concerning. Please look into this. I can provide details. Thanks.

Mandy Lee says:
1 October 2020

Hey, I just had my heart stop. Thank goodness i checked, but i always do .. As soon as they asked for my password I stopped,, the name isn’t the same,, the page for this was:
@officalliveteam
But all else was the same, though the message had a note saying to copy & paste the link to the “form ” due to synchronicity issues?
I have screenshots if you’d like, if there isn’t a place to leave them here. I still have a bad feeling & it’s so horrid they do that , I’ve worked years to get my page it’s my work now.
Thank you for what you do here!
Kindness,
Mandy

Hi Mandy – well done for checking – glad we were able to help! Please do send the screenshots to conversation.comments@which.co.uk and we’ll take a look.

Suman says:
6 November 2020

I have just had the same message sent to me from
@igviolationhelpbusiness
@ighelpteams

Hello dear user
You have violated your accounts instagram rules ….

Alicia says:
20 November 2020

My business instagram account received a message the same like this this morning from an account named Istagaramcoprtesy. I used my personal account to fill in the link it gave and was warned to not change any information.