It’s possible to get your Instagram account back after it has been hacked, but it will take persistence and help.
GrillGirl Robyn experienced this confusing journey firsthand and now wants to help others do the same.
Robyn Lindars shared her behind-the-scenes tips and secrets on the Digital Hospitality podcast about getting her @grillgirlrobyn Instagram account back in her hands after she got hacked by a verification check mark email phishing scam in 2020.
Having had her Instagram account hacked, Robyn was at risk of losing years of love and labor put into @grillgirlrobyn.
The online influencer, longtime BBQ star and Girl Who Grills, gave us a handy tutorial to recovering an Instagram social media profile after it gets taken over by a hacker.
Steps to Get Instagram Profile Back from Hackers
- Submit for Support –
To get your ticket started, you must go through Instagram on their app directly. You may have to do this through a friend’s account if yours has completely disappeared, but this is the first step.
- Contact Your People –
If your Instagram is hacked, make sure your people know to spread the word and get help. The best help you can get when your account is hacked? A contact at Facebook.
- Go to Facebook Ads Manager –
Facebook owns Instagram and has the resources to not only help you but get you on the phone with an actual person. Facebook’s Advertising Department will be the most helpful resource for you as they are closer to the money and security when it comes to Instagram.
- Be Persistent –
Getting your Insa account back likely won’t happen in a day. Be persistent. Get as much help as possible, contact as many people at Facebook as possible and plug away until your account is back in your possession.
As with any hardship or adversity, it’s always easier with the love and support of your friends.
“I’m so thankful to the barbecue community,” says Robyn. “Because everyone really rallied behind me. It just reiterated how awesome this community is and that they really pulled together to help me.”
- For the full fun and informative interview with GrillGirl Robyn Lindars check out her episode of the Digital Hospitality podcast right here at Cali BBQ Media.
- Make sure to subscribe to our Cali BBQ Media and Cali BBQ YouTube channels for more helpful videos and updates.
How to Unhack Your Insta | Talking with GrillGirl Robyn
Shawn Walchef (@calicomfortbbq) — I became aware of the work that you were doing, you know, early on, you know, basically through Instagram. And that’s one of the things I want to talk about today. Instagram has become such a popular social media platform, obviously, that everyone knows about. But I also listened to you on Greg Rempe’s show The BBQ Central Show.
You do a phenomenal job talking about your blog, the work that you’ve been doing and creating content for these grill manufacturers, creating lifestyle content, what you’re doing now. And I think it’s just a fascinating story to see a woman in the barbecue space that’s made such an impact the way that you have.
But also your Digital Hospitality journey. You know, we talked about BBQ War Stories because that’s kind of the evolution of how this podcast started. But everyone has a Digital Hospitality war story. And I’d like you to start telling us a little bit about what happened with the blue verification checkmark with Instagram. And your most recent experience.
Robyn Lindars (@grillgirlrobyn) — Yes. So you know that the blue verification mark is just like pure gold on Instagram. Right? And I had recently applied for verification and I’ve done it a couple times and I’m thinking, what do I have to do to get it right? I’ve written a cookbook. I’ve been running a website about grilling for 12 years. You know, I’ve been on a couple pretty known shows like the Food Network and like, you know, the Today Show and so I apply for verification and never heard anything back. And then, lo and behold, I get this email one day about Instagram verification, like ‘we’ve been watching your account there.’ You know, basically the email was, send us this code back in an email with your information. But it also had the look and feel of, if you ever do hear from Instagram, what it looks like.
So the moral of the story is it was a phishing email, which I was super vulnerable to because I just had it on the brain. I was multitasking at the moment, like we all are usually doing when we’re sitting, you know, checking email or listening to a webinar or whatever it is that you might be doing at the time, and didn’t think anything of it. And that person was a hacker who took over my account.
I have in this process heard from other people that this happened to, a lot of people. What happens is that they will hold someone’s account for ransom. But that’s not what this guy was doing. I think someone people pay him to take over accounts to instantly gain followers.
So what was really horrifying to see was, because my husband was tagged in some photos, I could follow the journey of my account being hacked and see as this person, some Black Hat web guy, took over my account and then changed the profile names multiple, multiple, multiple times, and then eventually deleted my content. And so his game was to steal people’s accounts, transfer their followers over to people who paid for it.
But the really hard part about all of this, and hopefully your listeners maybe at least who hear this message will never have to go through this, is that you actually can’t get anyone on the phone at Instagram or even there’s no email address. There’s really no way to get in touch with them except through, like a very automated way in, you know, through their app. And it just turns into, God forbid, just like a real shit show. I don’t want to say it’s their fault. There’s millions of users, you know, out there and there’s millions people getting hacked every day. But the moral of the story is you really have to be persistent or you’ll never get your account back.
Shawn — You did get your account back.
Robyn — I did get my account back. It took about a week.
Shawn — How did you go about doing?
Robyn — So I, of course, did the I did all the stuff they say to do on your phone, you know, to submit for support. Then they sent me an automated response saying it had been resolved. And I was like, yeah, I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been resolved. The other thing is that when someone takes over your account and changes the name, then you no longer have access to even log in as yourself to submit a ticket. So then you’re really screwed. So that’s the larger problem right there, is that now you don’t even have a log in. And that’s actually how I figured out my account had been hacked, was that I went to log in and it said that username doesn’t exist. And I was like, holy shit. Talk about how, you know … Excuse me for cursing Shawn.
Shawn — This is you. If you were on Behind the Smoke, you know, we led that entire podcast for what I think was 47 episodes with my former business partner cussing me out. So yeah, profanities is ok.
Robyn — I can’t help it. It’s just the way I talk. You know, my poor son. I’ll be like I can say that but you can’t say that. I’ll be like, oh no, I forgot! But anyway, I digress. So I log in. My account no longer exists. So I’m putting this out, is that when this happens to you, you don’t even have any recourse because now you can’t even log into your account. So I actually had to log in through my son’s account. And that’s how I actually communicated to people that my account had been taken over, was through my account that my husband and I started to document our home building adventure.
I had multiple people helping me. And that’s the also the moral of the story is that if you know anyone at Facebook or anyone that works at Facebook in your circle, use that as a resource because someone who actually works there can submit a ticket for you.
And they also have what’s called a friends and family ticket. So the V.P. of the ad agency, who is pretty much embedded at Kingsford that I’ve been working with for a long time, had a friend that worked there, who submitted his friends and family ticket. I also had their account reps at Instagram through Clorox, because you have to think that Clorox and Kingsford spend a decent amount with their Facebook account. I had them working on it for me. So I had multiple people working for me.
But what actually ended up happening was the Facebook Ads Manager chat. So the only way you can actually get in touch with a real live person is if you go to Facebook Ads Manager and chat with someone. Now, I had to do this twice, actually, because the first time I talked to someone, and this is what made me really kind of lose my hope, was that I talked to this person who very much, you could tell, just chatting with them, that they couldn’t make any decisions or go off script at all. Everything that they were giving me in the form of a chat was cut and paste. And I basically told them my account has been hacked. It’s tied to my Facebook account with the same name.
You would think that this would be something that you would care about because it could also effect my other accounts. And I had documented this guy’s name, who lives and breathes, is a real person, and all of his contact info, everything like all of this, or at least, you know, his multiple accounts. I had like a huge paper trail. Like you think that they would care that there’s someone actively stealing accounts, at least to bring them to shut the account down. But no, they were like, ‘sorry, we can’t help you.’ And then he had his manager follow up to tell me that they still couldn’t help me because it was out of their scope of work.
So that was the first time I reached out to them. But then the second time I reached out, I actually got in touch with someone really helpful. A guy named Adrian. Adrian, I love you. I told him I was like, Adrian, I will smoke a brisket for you. You know what I mean? I’m like, how am I going to FedEx a brisket to this guy, you know?
But it was just so refreshing to talk to someone that was like, ‘really? All right, let me bring this up internally. And I promise you we will resolve this.’ He followed up in an e-mail to me. And I was just like, oh, my God. My faith is restored in this company that I’ve spent a lot, a decent amount of money and time and energy on. And without its users, what does Instagram and Facebook have? That’s actually what got it resolved. Whatever they did behind the scenes, they were able to grab my account at a point in time before that guy had pulled off all my content. When you see that happen. You’ve got to realize there’s a lot of stuff I only put on Instagram. It never makes it to the blog because everything on the blog is finished and reduced image size and a full recipe right up or, you know what I mean it’s a different medium, whereas Instagram is kind of the quick and dirty behind the scenes stuff and it’s just different. And there’s stuff that just never makes it to the blog.
It was just it was a nightmare. But I didn’t give up. Because I’m a total pain in the ass and persistent, I even was asking everyone I know and I had everyone on the case. I do have to say thanks. I’m so thankful to the barbecue community because everyone really rallied behind me and was like, ‘we will help you rebuild.’ Or if they knew anyone at Facebook.
Actually it was Big Paul on the Grill, which is a Big Green Egger person that I’m friends with online. And he’s the one that put me in touch with one of his friends that worked at Facebook so I could actually talk to a real person. It just reiterated how awesome this community is in that they really pulled together to help me. And in me having that great experience with someone at the Ads Manager and Facebook kind of restored my faith in them.
The thing is, though, that’s through Facebook. You know, Facebook owns Instagram, but they still operate kind of separately, even though Facebook is behind the scenes the one doing things. So if you don’t have a Facebook account while also having an Instagram, or if you only have an Instagram page, the Facebook Ads Manager may not be available to you. So if that happens to you, you may even consider just creating a business page and even buying an ad just so you can have that ad account number to plug into the screen in order to help you chat with someone, because that’s what they ask for. If it takes that level of getting to talk to someone, it’s worth it because otherwise you’re just left standing kind of like, you know, support tickets through your phone that probably won’t ever go anywhere.
Shawn — I think that’s a great point. And I really appreciate your vulnerability. And in crowdsourcing the help, you know, reaching out to the barbecue community, I watched you do it. I was so impressed that you were willing to because it’s a mea culpa. You know, you did something. That’s what happens when you get scammed. You’re vulnerable. You wanted something. You wanted the blue checkmark, you had gone through the steps. You hadn’t got it. And then you got the email that we’ve all been waiting for and you submitted it in hopes that you were doing the right thing. And then it ended up being identity fraud, essentially.
Through that journey, through your journey with Facebook and through Instagram, it’s kind of the things that we talk about every week on the podcast, is even with a technology company as big as Facebook and as big as Instagram is, really humans are at the heart of that technology. And even though they’re going to set up this automation, which I understand the automation, they keep their labor by creating smart automation, and that’s fine.
But ultimately, they need to drive revenue and the revenue side is going to come from the ads. That’s great advice, because if you have a Yelp account, you’re going to get much better help if you’re a business account with Yelp. Because they have an account rep for your account, they have multiple account reps actually for the different features that they have on Yelp. And you can get things done. It’s the same thing with all of these tech companies.
So I appreciate you telling us that story because it ended great. It gives people an idea of the things that can go wrong on the Internet, the things that can happen when you are vulnerable, especially when it comes to your identity, your passwords, your emails.
Those are things that, as we get all these other platforms and log ins and different passwords that have to be eight characters long with an uppercase letter and a lowercase letter and a symbol, you realize I need a place to store all this information so that I can log in in the safe way. And as a brand grows, you start to have people that work on your account.
Stover, I know, has done work for you. Stover is our producer for our podcast. He has access to all of our social media log ins, whether he’s actually actively in the platform or not. And should something happen to his computer while he is at an Internet cafe or whatever, something could happen to our account where we get logged out. Like shit, I’ve been building that Facebook account since 2008, when this restaurant (Cali BBQ) started. It is very important to be vigilant, to be vigilant and to understand that all that work that you can do… And I can only imagine what you felt. It was like your heart dropped, because while it’s not your website, you’ve worked equally as hard at building your Instagram profile.
Robyn — Oh, absolutely. I mean, honestly, that harder because it’s such a proliferation of great content on Instagram. And when I first started on Instagram, I don’t think I really had a lot of strategy in the early days, which I think was when it was easier to really start developing a larger following. Or I feel like if you’re kind of like on any network, if you get started earlier, it’s easier to grow when there’s more opportunity, less competition.
A rebuilding would’ve been just so disappointing to have to start from ground zero. You know? Just pictures of my son and stuff like that on there. Will I ever repost those photos? Not again. You know that times lost. But I think persistence pays off. I forgot to mention this part. I was being a pain in the ass. I went on LinkedIn and I started finding people that worked at Facebook. I reached out to their security officer. And did he get back to me? No. But had it not been fixed, I would have been emailing him every day, you know?
What you just have to you have to do it. You just have to be a pain in someone’s butt. Because that’s yours. It’s identity theft. And I was vulnerable. I had the conversation with my husband that morning about putting my dog down. I think I was kind of in a fog, you know what I mean?
Shawn — Losing a family member, that’s a serious deal. You know, Dave Palet, who’s been on the show twice, I go on walks with him and his son, Sunrise Gratitude walks with him every morning. He just put his dog down this morning. He didn’t know and we went on the walk and he said he’s not doing well. It’s a family member, and especially to get that e-mail at that time, I’m so sorry about that.
Robyn — That’s what was like the highlight of my day. I was like, yes, I’m having a shitty day, but now I’m going to get verified. But, you know, I was an idiot and gave up my info. And hopefully that won’t happen to other people. Because honestly, the thing is these scammers are good, right? They’re meant to be really good at what they do. That’s how they succeed.
The goal is that it doesn’t happen to anyone else. If I have at least saved one person from it happening to and that nightmare, then it will be great. It’s all about sharing the story.
Shawn — What I love that you just talked about, and I’m glad that you brought it up, was that you used a different platform to try to solve an issue. And what I’ve learned, because we go on all the platforms, is that we will use Twitter and if we don’t get a response from Uber Eats support requests for having our business delivery portal. So if we can’t get a request, guess what? Somebody is in charge at these tech companies for the Twitter account, and they don’t want us on Twitter saying, hey, a restaurant that just signed up during a pandemic can’t get a support request here. Here’s a different number where somebody will actually answer the phone. Literally, we got a different phone number than the number that we had been given through our business information portal. And my general manager is like, how the hell did that happen? I’m like, it’s Digital Hospitality.
There’s certain PR facing social media sites that are gonna give you access to somebody that can make something happen. And you need to be willing to go on those sites to do that.
Robyn — Yep, absolutely. And they want to take care of that as soon as possible and get off line so that you don’t have to continue talking about the bad experience you’re having. So it’s in their best interest to rectify the situation.
- This conversation is just a portion of the Digital Hospitality podcast interview with Robyn “GrillGirl” Lindars about her fascinating career, achievements, and digital evolution.
Check out the entire insightful chat right here at Cali BBQ Media and make sure to subscribe to the Digital Hospitality podcast on your favorite podcast player.
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