A Malaysian fitness model's Instagram account was recently hacked by a group of professionals, who extorted RM1,700 worth of Bitcoin out of her
Flight attendant Joey Tng, who has over 200,000 followers on Instagram, was a victim of a phishing attack last Saturday, 25 April.
Joey received an email that claimed to be from Instagram, and that she had 24 hours before her account was deleted from its servers due to "copyright crimes".
Seeing as it looked legitimate, Joey clicked on the link to make an appeal.
"I then clicked into the link and it directed me to a website to verify my account. I filled up the form as followed - my Instagram username, password, email, and email password," Joey wrote in her police report, which was made available to SAYS.
A check by SAYS found that the website has a similar user interface to what an Instagram notice page would look like.
The next day, Joey received another email that asked for two-factor authentication so that she could verify the ownership of her account
After doing what she was told, she received an official Instagram email, stating that she had switched her Instagram account email to an unidentifiable Gmail account.
"At about 7.18am on Sunday, 26 April, I received a WhatsApp message from an unknown number, telling me that he was the one who hacked into the account and demanded SGD550 (approximately RM1,700) of Bitcoin. If not, they will delete the photos and sell my account to a third party," Joey said.
The blackmail was sent by an Argentinian phone number. Joey was then added to a group chat that has another member. The person had a display name called "Morphus Layn" and used a Russian phone number.
"Hey baby, hacked," a message read, attached together with a stuck-out tongue smiley.
Joey told SAYS that she was terrified by the message and likened the hackers' behaviour to Joker, a psychopathic villain in the comic series Batman.
Afraid of losing her Instagram account which she has been running for 10 years, Joey quickly obliged to the hackers' demand
She told her friend to wire RM1,700 to a given Bitcoin payee's address.
The value of a single Bitcoin equals RM35,314. The value Joey was extorted comes at less than 0.05% of a single Bitcoin.
"However, the hackers did not restore the account and even asked for another USD600 (approximately RM2,600) or send them some content that can make them 'happy'," Joey said.
She added that she was only given 24 hours to pay the ransom.
Realising her mistake, Joey decided to take the matter to the police and seek help from Instagram
Joey could not access her account for three days, before Instagram restored her account.
She said she was lucky that she regained her account access in time or else the hackers would have deleted her account with 200,000 followers.
She also warned the public to lodge a police report written in English if they ever encounter a similar incident, explaining that it helps fasten the team at Instagram to act on the police report instead of waiting for translation.
"Social networks play a big part in people's lives now. Apart from contacting friends and family, many Internet celebrities' livelihoods depend on such platforms," Joey related.
"Seeing the number of followers and memorable photos accumulated over years of hard work disappear overnight is heartbreaking."
The fitness model believed she was hacked by a group of professional hackers based in Turkey, who used a new modus operandi to obtain users' login credentials
"They have endless tactics. I hope by sharing my experience, more people will be aware of online phishing, especially people from Malaysia," Joey shared.
"Remember, don't ever send money to hackers."
In a post yesterday, 28 April, Joey said she has regained access to her Instagram and urged her fans to activate two-factor authentication to avoid being hacked.
You can read her post here: