Coordinating with other social media platforms, like Twitter and TikTok, Instagram is banning users who have been involved in stealing hundreds of single-word user names. The short and covetable handles are known as “O.G. user names” and are valuable both because they are eye-catching and they confer status; the first to have them were early adopters of the platform.
Cybercriminals have been buying and selling the user names on dedicated forums and messaging apps until a crackdown began this month. Following a monthslong investigation into ogusers.com, where the user names are primarily sold and traded, Instagram discovered the stolen names were obtained through hacking, extortion, blackmail and harassment. The names could be sold for as much as $40,000 and has gone largely unchecked for years. Some cybercriminals use a SIM swap tactic, exploiting someone’s personal information to obtain control of their phone number and use two-factor authentication to gain access to their personal accounts allowing them to steal what they want. Recently though, they have resorted to harassment and threats.
Instagram stated nine cybercriminals were behind the unauthorized seizure of hundreds of accounts, but the ban extended to middlemen involved in the buying and selling of accounts as well. The company is committed to continue holding those involved in criminal activity accountable. To learn more, click here.