xxkeikkaxx 20230909 Miss Suomi kilpailut. Kuvassa Heidi Willman Tomi Natri / All Over Press

Influencer falls victim to Instagram scam

Heidi Willman’s work ground to a halt when her Instagram account was hacked.

Entrepreneur and social media influencer Heidi Willman made the mistake in November of answering an email that looked genuine at first glance.

Willman had previously thought she had verified her Instagram account so that Meta knew it belonged to a real public figure.

When she got an email offering her the opportunity to verify her account, she decided to act.

“The email looked like it had come from Meta, but it was from a hacker. The email looked really genuine,” she says.

Willman followed the instruction in the email, but soon realized she’d been conned.

“In the blink of an eye, I realized I’d lost everything. When I opened Instagram, my account was gone, before I could say Jack Robinson.”

Big loss

The hacking of Willman’s Instagram account was a big blow for her, as much of her work is linked to the platform. When she shared her cancer diagnosis in 2016, she got many new followers.

“During Covid, when all the events and presenter gigs were cancelled, Instagram became even more important. Companies started contacting me more and I started doing more paid promotions.”

Willman succeeded in increasing her Instagram following to 52,000.

“That’s a significant number, even from a client perspective. I made my main living through Instagram. Years of work were taken away from me. I’m really sorry for my clients.”

At the end of last year Willman contacted her clients and presented her apologies.

“I lost my work in one go. This year, I have a presenting gig lined up for March, but nothing else in the diary,” she says.

New account from scratch

Willman decided to set up a new account a couple of weeks ago.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever get my old account back. I hired a professional to recover it, but it looks like the hacker deleted my account permanently.”

The hacker contacted Willman twice on WhatsApp from two different numbers.

“They asked me in English whether I owned the account. I was advised not to reply, so I don’t know what kind of money the hacker would have asked for to restore my Instagram account.”

Willman published an Instagram video last week asking for help.

“This is a real emergency. I’ve asked my friends and everyone know to share my new account.”

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Pauli Reinikainen