According to a new report from Motherboard, Instagram scammers have developed a new method that will ban any Instagram account at will for around $60, by abusing abusing Instagram’s protections against suicide, self-harm, and impersonation. Per the report, the same scammers also offer services for thousands of dollars to recover banned accounts.
According to interviews, screenshots, and materials reviewed by Motherboard, some scammers use an impersonation method to ban an account: They get their verified account, change its profile photo, bio, and name to look the same with the target account, and then report the target account for impersonation.
War, the pseudonymous user offering the ban service, told Motherboard in a Telegram message that banning “is pretty much a full time job lol.” They claimed to have made over five-figures from selling Instagram bans in under a month.
Motherboard also reports that bans on some users’ accounts may have been caused by multiple scripts that could spam Instagram’s reporting tools before reaching the app’s limits. (around about 40 reports).
According to a screenshot Motherboard reviewed, one person allegedly offering a restoring service wrote a message to a victim saying that “Basically it’s 3500-4k to restore. 1500 refundable deposit to start.”
Instagram told Motherboard it was investigating the sites offering ban services, and that it will itself ban people from Instagram who repeatedly break the site’s guidelines.
Instagram also encouraged users to report people if they suspect this type of activity, and pointed to its own support page that users can follow to restore their own disabled account.