A Brisbane mum has revealed how cybercriminals stole $24,000 from her loyal followers after hacking into her social media accounts.
Anna Van Dijk runs the popular online store ‘Lunchbox Mini’ where she sells a variety of lunchboxes, water bottles, coffee cups and cooler bags.
In February, her Instagram account was targeted by cybercriminals who stole thousands from her loyal followers using a fake bitcoin scheme.
In just seven days the fraudsters swindled a dozen Aussie mums out of $24,000, as Ms Van Dijk desperately tried to regain control of her account.
Anna Van Dijk (pictured) runs the popular online store ‘Lunchbox Mini’ where she sells a variety of lunchboxes, water bottles, coffee cups and cooler bags
Scammers told Ms Van Dijk’s followers they could make $7,000 in just two hours if they invested $1,000 (pictured, a message sent from the scammers to a victim)
She explained the hackers had posed as members of the Meta group who own Instagram and Facebook, and sent her an email notifying her that one of her Instagram posts had been flagged for copyright issues.
The email said she had 24 to 48 hours to click the button to ‘dispute’ the claims before her account would be deactivated or deleted forever.
Within two minutes of clicking the button the Brisbane mum received an email notifying her that her Instagram password and email had been changed.
‘It was a long seven days for me,’ Ms Van Dijk told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I knew every single day people were losing money.’
The scammers tricked the mums into investing in fake bitcoin schemes, telling the women they could make $7,000 in two hours if they invested $1,000.
In February, the Brisbane mother-of-two’s Instagram account was targeted by cybercriminals who stole thousands from her loyal followers using a fake bitcoin scheme
At least a dozen mums who followed the Lunchbox Mini account were fooled into ‘investing’ $1000 of their hard-earned savings, one of whom was pregnant with her third child
They went to the effort of falsifying bank and trade statements with Ms Van Dijk’s name on them to try and prove the scheme was legitimate.
At least a dozen mums were fooled into ‘investing’ $1000 of their hard-earned savings, one of whom was pregnant with her third child.
She told the scammers, who she had believed to be Ms Van Dijk, that the extra cash could mean her hard-working husband could spend more time with the baby.
The fraudsters while posing as the mother-of-two told the woman they ‘swear on my children’s lives’ that she would see a return on her investments.
Once the mothers had transferred an initial $1,000 they were asked to spend an additional $7,000 to access the money.
The scammers guaranteed they would receive $30,000 if they invested $7,000 with the majority of mothers at this point smelling a rat and pulling out.
However one woman lost a total of $8,000 – money she had borrowed from family members – with none of the victims yet to get any of their money back.
Ms Van Dijk said she spend three ‘gut-wrenching’ hours assessing the damage on her Instagram page and sent a personal voicemail to apologise to the victims
The scammers tricked the mums into investing in fake bitcoin schemes, telling the women they could make $7,000 in two hours if they invested $1,000
Ms Van Dijk said she spend three ‘gut-wrenching’ hours assessing the damage on her Instagram page and sent a personal voicemail to apologise to the victims.
Some of the women had blocked her after realising their money was never coming back with scam costing the business owner hundreds of followers.
She became aware of the scam dominating her Instagram page through messages sent on Facebook and her website.
EXPERT’S TOP TIPS FOR AVOIDING BEING HACKED:
1. Create a human firewall by educating yourself and employees.
2. Protect passwords by using multi-factor authentication, and regularly updating passwords.
3. Limit exposures by hot spotting to a secure account rather logging onto public Wi-Fi.
4. Be prepared by having a back-up account ready and knowing what will be required to get your account back.
5. Pay for cyber-protection insurance.
6. Update business policies and procedures to prevent and recover from any suspicious behaviour.
The majority were from women who had invested money and wanted updates on returns, or from concerned husbands wanting to confirm it was legitimate.
On February 18, Ms Van Dijk took to her Instagram Stories to announce she had regained control of her account, a video she said was ‘etched in her mind’.
She apologised to her followers for having to endure the endless bitcoin spam and said it had been the ‘hardest thing’ knowing they had been contacted.
The Brisbane mum said she was only able to regain control of her account after getting in touch with a family friend with an Instagram contact.
She uses authenticator apps on her phone that require a six-digit number to be able to log in to her Instagram account from another device.
Ms Van Dijk believes her small business was targeted by the cybercriminals due to her highly engaged and loyal following.
‘Instagram rewards you and puts you out there if you have a high level of engagement on your account,’ she explained.
‘And these mums trusted me.’
It comes as experts warn small businesses on social media continue to be an easy target for scammers with cyber attacks on the rise.
Business Australia General Manager Products Phil Parisis said he has seen a surge in the number of accounts being infiltrated by hackers to scam their customers.
‘Many small businesses rely on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for a big part of their marketing or staying in touch with their clients – and cyber criminals are increasingly seeing this as an easy target,’ he said.
Business Australia General Manager Products Phil Parisis (pictured) said he has seen a surge in the number of accounts being infiltrated by hackers to scam their customers
‘One click is all it takes to lose everything.’
Australians lost more than $8million to social networking scams last month, nearly four times what was lost in the same period in the previous record breaking year.
There’s also been a 40% spike in the number of attacks being reported.
Last July, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) reported a 60 per cent increase in ransomware attacks against Australian entities.
By September, the ACSC estimated organisations and individuals had paid $33billion in the past year, either to hackers or in costs associated with the attacks.