Scammer dupes Instagram into believing its own boss is dead — RT World News

Instagram blocked the account head from accessing his personal account after someone sent him a false obituary saying that Adam Mosseri had died.

The scammer, who goes by the name Syenrai, exploited the platform’s memorialization feature, which allows users to report the death of any account holder provided they can back it up with a death certificate, an obituary, or a news article featuring the full name of the deceased. Instagram will thereafter prevent anyone logging into a memorialized account and making changes to photos, and will slap the word ‘Remembering’ next to the profile’s name.

Instagram has confirmed that Mosseri’s account was blocked in September. But it said the company had restored Mosseri’s access quickly. However, Syenrai told Vice’s Motherboard magazine that other users who have had their accounts memorialized in the same fashion have had to wait for days or even weeks to regain access. They said they had targeted Mosseri’s account to highlight his company’s lax verification protocols, adding that they found it “It’s ridiculous” that Instagram “Let such things happen even on the platform!.”

The scammer shared with Motherboard their e-mail exchange with Instagram’s tech support team, in which they appear to have all too easily passed off a fake obituary in the name of Adam Mosseri on his gullible staff.

As it turns out, Instagram’s memorialization feature appears to be a veritable money-making machine for the likes of Syenrai and others – for a fee, they offer a ‘banning service’ to any Instagram user wishing to kick another off the platform. And they say it really doesn’t take a lot to convince Instagram someone has passed away. Syenrai says that 98% percent of all instances, the account will be blocked if the obituary is dated within the same week as the memorialization request. You don’t have to use the exact same name for the obituary as the one in the targeted account.

Commenting on the memorialization of their boss, an Instagram spokesperson told Motherboard the company “hires investigators and cybersecurity specialists to detect scammers’ tactics.” The statement reassured users that the staff reviewing memorialization requests cross-check the name and date of birth featured in the account with the details in the submitted obituary.

Meanwhile, another anonymous user who claims to provide a pay-for-ban service told Vice back in August the activity had become “It’s a job that can be done full-time” for them, and claimed they had raked in a five-figure income in under a month.

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