Instagram is a huge, world-wide community and it probably won’t shock you to hear that not everyone is on their best behavior. Besides bullying and flame wars, there is one nasty bunch making the rounds: scammers. And even the rather niche #customknife community isn’t spared.
So, let’s talk: What are the most common scams, and what can you do about them?
The maybe most frustrating of the lot are the impersonators. They create an account very similar to yours and try to scam your friends and fans using the trust you built up over the months and years.
How do they do this and why?
Impersonators usually find an account name that’s almost the same. Maybe they add an underscore, maybe they switch a letter. They’ll also likely steal your pictures and profile photo.
They do this so they can make your followers believe they’re you and then they sell them something, or make them give up information they shouldn’t.
Example from the #customknife community
This particular scammer tried selling cryptocurrencies to other members of the #customknife community, which is an odd thing to do, to put it mildly, so I doubt they had much success.
What to do about it
The single best thing you can do is to report the account. We’re linking a how-to guide below.
The key is that you—the person who is being impersonated—must report the account, not your uncle, best friend or greatest fan. You.
That also means you need an ID to prove that you’re actually who you say you are (and your impostor isn’t). Also, your name on the profile needs to match the ID exactly. Read Ray Parisis story below.
The good news is that Instagram recognizes the problem and has made reporting such an account a thing. They also created a dedicated help page, which includes where subpoena’s are supposed to be sent. Gulp.
The bad news: In the worst traditions of Silicon Valley tech megacompanies, there is no way to really push Instagram (or Facebook) to take action, no way to get insight into the status of your report, and no appeal.
In other words: you gotta report the account, and then all you can do is wait. 🙁
Thieves of your Knife Designs
There are some knife makers who steal other people’s designs, produce them for cheap, and sell them shamelessly on IG. I’ve seen one such incident a while ago but forgot to save it.
This, of course, is a problem for all makers, not just the custom knife maker crowd. I’ve a friend who designs sneakers and who was tagged by a Chinese manufacturer who produced and sold sneakers using his design, without permission.
What to do about it
Basically, as above, you report the issue. And then you wait and hope.
There is one catch, though: Instagram may pass on your Name and E-mail address to the scammer. That’s not because they’re silly or hostile, but because they can be legally obliged to.
The idea is that the accused person must be able to contest your copyright claim, and can’t do it if they don’t know whom they need to reach out to.
- Instagram support article on how to deal with impersonators
- Insightful story by Ray Parisi, a senior executive producer at CNBC on how he found out he got impersonated and how he handled it. Also shows how little you can do when the Gram doesn’t give a damn.
- Very useful & detailed step-by-step guide on how to report a fake account by socialbuddy.com