Where’d You Go Lilac and Lip Gloss: The Story of How My IG Account Was Held Hostage by Russian Hackers

Sunday’s Super Bowl may have gone down as one of the most boring games in history, but I can tell you that Sunday was anything but boring in my blogging world, and a day I’ll never forget (although I’d really like to).
If you don’t follow me on Instagram you wouldn’t have known that I was missing. And even if you do follow me on Instagram, you probably wouldn’t have known that I was missing, because thankfully it was only for 11 hours (11 very nerve racking hours).
Here’s what happened:
Around 5 pm I went to check in on my IG. Only when I went to log in, I got a message stating that there was no such user. I then logged in from my personal account and searched for lilacandlipgloss and it was nowhere to be found.

Full panic mode set in. I had spent countless hours and whatever energy I had left in me (after teaching, family, and life) over the past year building up my IG and gaining the kindest audience anyone could ask for. Was this blog I had worked so hard for really gone just like that? I have backups of the pics. But the people who make it all worthwhile – they may be lost forever, and that just crushed me.
Then I checked my email, and I had one from IG stating that I changed the email on my Instagram account, and if I didn’t make the change I could revert it. Oh…thank goodness!!! I pressed revert…and you know what that did? NOTHING!
Then this lovely gem came through:

While TJ (aka Mr. Lilac) frantically started changing all of our passwords, I went online to the IG Help Center to report
a hacked account. What I got in return was automated, unhelpful responses, including one that said my account had been removed and they’re unable to restore accounts that have been permanently deleted…sorry. (Well thanks IG, glad to know I’m using a well-protected platform run by people who care).
TJ at this point is scouring the internet in search of what to do, and I am reaching out to my blogging group to see if they have any ideas, and the hackers are continuously emailing to ask where their money is and threatening to delete the account (which at this point I’m thinking they’ve already done). Giving the hackers money was never an option (most articles we read stated that influencers who did this still did not get their account back).
And then TJ comes across an article mentioning my soon-to-be hero, Juan Diego J Pelaez, known for getting other IG influencers out of these distressing situations. While TJ and I are talking to Juan who is absolutely determined to get my account back, I am receiving multiple responses from my blogging group full of nothing but support and positivity, which was turning my stressed out tears into thankful ones. @styled_to_a_t asked her tech husband for advice, @styleme_philly got the word out on her InstaStory and directed people over to my FB page, @colorsofmei told me she knew I’d get my account back, but if I didn’t she would walk me through how to rebuild my audience. The list just goes on and on. If there’s ever a reason to get into blogging it’s to meet the most amazing people!
Not only did Juan get my account back by 4 am the next morning, he messaged me the next day multiple times to check in to see how I was doing. If only these social media platforms had customer service with an ounce of his heart!
The back story on how I got scammed:
Earlier that afternoon I had received an email from a boutique asking if I’d like to collaborate, which looked just like so many other emails I have received in the past. I clicked on the link but it asked me to sign into IG (which I did – big mistake!!!), but nothing happened. So I just went straight to my IG app to check them out. The shop was legit and had a big following, but the clothes weren’t my style and they were based in Southern California and I’m in NJ, so I wasn’t quite sure why’d they be interested in me. I figured I’d write them back later to tell them thank you, but it’s not a fit.
Apparently when I thought I was signing into IG, I was really signing into a phishing link, and I basically handed over my password to the hackers.
I’m so thankful to be “back.” I am so thankful I get to interact with you every single day! Without you, there would be no blog. While I started this blog over a year ago on a whim, it’s become a big part of who I am, and to lose it against my will would have been absolutely devastating.
I never thought something like this could happen to me, and I don’t want it to happen to you. I am not a tech expert by any stretch of the imagination, but here’s what I learned, and I’m hoping it will be helpful for you in protecting your own IG account.
*Make sure your Two-Factor Authentication is turned on in Instagram. Do this by going to your Settings and sliding it to on. If someone tries to use your username and password, they’ll also need a code that only you will have.
*Don’t ever log into IG (or anything else) from any link but the app/website itself.
*Put your hashtag on every.single.post and do a hashtag search every.single.day to make sure nobody is copying your account.
*Create a different password for every single app/login you use (such a pain, but if hackers get your password and have your email address they can get into anything).
*If something doesn’t make sense to you, then something is probably off.

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