‘I couldn’t breathe’ Mum loses £1,240 in scam scheme which was ‘recommended’ by friends

Nicole Reeves had her Instagram hijacked by scammers who then went on to steal thousands of pounds from other victims. The mum told the programme how she fell for the scam because she believed it was an opportunity recommended by friends.

When an advert popped up for an investment scheme called the Money Flip, Nicole found herself intrigued.

She would usually be sceptical about such opportunities, however this one appeared to be recommended by someone she knew.

She said: “I was scrolling through Instagram and on one of the stories that came up, it was a friend, and in the video he was saying how much he appreciated this money flip.

“How he’d got a massive kind of financial investment, how he’d gained a lot of money and how he was very happy and it turned his life around.”

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He told her to message someone called Shanny Powell but before she did she checked out the profile which included glowing endorsements of Money Flip.

There are more than one Instagram accounts under the name of Shanny Powell – but whereas some are authentic – this particular one wasn’t.

Nicole added: “I just thought ‘wow it’s got to be real’ – these videos go back a couple of years.”

Initially, Nicole was encouraged to invest £500 before then being told the great news that she had been chosen to win £20,000 but she’d need to put in another £740.

Then she was asked to record a video endorsing the money flip process just like her friend had.

Nicole was then asked to provide her Apple ID, password and one time passcode before the funds could be released.

Once she’d handed those details over, everything changed.

Unfortunately, Nicole is not the only victim of social media scams which are increasingly targeting younger victims.

Thousands of people like Nicole have lost huge amounts of money to this very same scam that tricks people into thinking they are acting on a friend’s recommendation.

Rip Off Britain contacted Instagram who said its parent company Meta has donated £3million to Citizen’s Advice to help them set up a UK anti-online scams initiative.

It went on to say it’s against its policies to “promote or facilitate investment or financial scams which promise high rates or returns.”

A spokesperson for Instagram provided with some tips to stay safe:

  • Set up two-factor authentication: This security feature requires you to provide a unique code and your password to log into your account — and you’ll get an alert if someone tries to login to your account from a device we don’t recognise. Set this up by tapping on Settings > Security. 
  • Enable Login Request: When you’ve set up two-factor authentication, you’ll get an alert if anyone tries to log into your account from a different device. By turning on Login Request, you can approve or deny those login requests. You can also view the list of devices that have recently logged into your account and log out of old or unfamiliar devices. 
  • Update your phone number and email: Make sure the email address and phone number linked to your device are up to date so that if something happens to your account, we can help you recover it. 
  • Report content and accounts you find questionable: Report individual pieces of content to Instagram by tapping the three dots above a post, holding on a message, or by visiting an account and reporting directly from the profile. 
  • Never respond to a DM sent by an account claiming to be Instagram: Instagram will never send you a DM. If we want to reach you, it will be through the Emails from Instagram tab in Settings > Security, which is the only place you will find direct and authentic communication on the app. Anything else could be a scam.

Rip Off Britain continues weekdays at 9.15am on BBC One.

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