/ 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Is it not time for banking rules to be amended so as to stop large sums of money being deposited and withdrawn almost simultaneously.?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.