Blog Header Image

Don’t Buy an Instagram Account from Someone in Turkey

don't buy an instagram account from someone in turkeyOur interview of “Martin” (not his real name) for “The Creative Influencer” podcast is available today for download on iTunes. Martin shared the following about his experience:  

Jon: So, when you were doing this, what was the business plan? Walk me through how you were going to make money.

Martin: I was gonna buy the account, create my brand around that account, you know, make me the brand of Martin, make it something so I can make a lot of money on it. You know clothing brand, posters connected to this art page. You know, I would become an influencer so to speak. You know, like any other.

Jon: At the time were you aware that according to Instagram’s Terms of Use, that it was against their basic terms to sell or to solicit and buy the credentials of other users?

Martin: When I first bought it, it—I really wasn’t thinking that, at all. I mean first of all, I found it on Facebook, so I mean I didn’t really think much of it. I was like oh, it’s an Instagram account, it’s not a big deal. You know, but as I got more into it, and I started to you know figure out more, I became concerned that something could happen, you know.

Jon: What would you do differently?

Martin: Make sure he wasn’t in Turkey.

______________________________________________________________________________

A transcript of the full interview follows: 

Jon: Thank you for sitting down with me. What is your name?

Martin: Martin.

Jon: Is Martin your real name?

Martin: No, it’s not

Jon: We’re gonna go through this story, but you bought an Instagram account. Correct?

Martin: Right.

Jon: Do you still have that Instagram account?

Martin: I don’t.

Jon: And that’s the story. Ok so, are you currently on Instagram? 

Martin: I am.

Jon: Was there a period of time you shut down all your social media?

Martin: Yeah.

Jon: Ok, so let’s talk about the decision to buy an Instagram account. At some point you decided to buy one, correct?

Martin: Right. 

Jon: Did you ever consider buying a YouTube account? 

Martin: Actually yeah, they are available. But I feel like they’re harder to connect your brand to so that’s why I didn’t do it, but you can buy them.

Jon: And did you consider buying a Snapchat account?

Martin: No.

Jon: But you did consider buying an Instagram account.

Martin: Right, I definitely considered it.

Jon: And, where did you get the idea to do that?

Martin: Uh, it’s pretty funny actually. Facebook allows advertisements, and somebody was advertising an Instagram website where you could buy them and I was like oh—

Jon: On Facebook?

Martin: On Facebook, right. 

(laughter)

Martin: Which is really funny to me.

Jon: After you saw that ad, how long was it before you did any further research on it?

Martin: Oh, right there. I started researching it.

Jon: And what did you find? There are obviously sites where you can buy them. 

Martin: Right. I didn’t see many downsides to it. I did research and found out these can be stolen and there’s some shady people that may sell them. And that’s pretty much all I researched. I didn’t see many downsides. I’m pretty optimistic.

Jon: So, glass half full kind of guy.  

(laughter)

Jon: So, when you were doing this, what was the business plan? Walk me through how you were going to make money.

Martin: I was gonna buy the account, create my brand around that account, you know, make me the brand of Martin, make it something so I can make a lot of money on it. You know clothing brand, posters connected to this art page. You know, I would become an influencer so to speak. You know, like any other.

Jon: So you found—how many accounts did you look at?   

Martin: Only a few, I really had interest in. Only large accounts, you know.

Jon: How many followers were in the account you got?

Martin: Close to three million people. 

Jon: And it was an art account?

Martin: Yeah.

Jon: Do you have any idea how long the account had been up?

Martin: Years. It’d been around for years. Uh, four years.

Jon: So that business plan was to post—these were gonna be sponsored posts?

Martin: Yeah, I did those as well. Paid posts for artists, you know. They want their works shared. I did some of that. But really where I saw the money was when I would create a brand and connect it to that page, you know.

Jon: So you had said that you didn’t see much of a downside.

Martin: No.

Jon: Ok. At the time were you aware that according to Instagram’s Terms of Use, that it was against their basic terms to sell or to solicit and buy the credentials of other users. 

Martin: When I first bought it, it—I really wasn’t thinking that, at all. I mean first of all, I found it on Facebook, so I mean I didn’t really think much of it. I was like oh, it’s an Instagram account, it’s not a big deal. You know, but as I got more into it, and I started to you know figure out more, I became concerned that something could happen, you know. 

Jon: Which is an object lesson that Facebook doesn’t monitor their ads very closely.

Martin: Right, well at all, maybe. Or they weren’t, right? This is before all the stuff going on right now. 

Jon: So you decided to go forward.

Martin: Right.

Jon: You found the account, three million followers, art account, thought you could monetize it. What’s the next thing you did?

Martin: After buying it?

Jon: Well, how do you go about buying it?

Martin: Well, I’m sure there are a lot of different ways, but I sent a wire transfer.

Jon: But before you sent the wire, did you communicate with the owner of the account?

Martin: Oh, for weeks I spoke with him and we even built up a friendship, you know? I thought he was a good guy, thought he was a great guy. 

(laughter)

Jon: When you say spoke? Was this text messages or emails?

Martin: Texts, no email, we Skyped, we video’ed on Kik, I think that’s what it called, a messaging app. 

Jon: So this isn’t like a catfish thing, you actually saw what the owner looked like?

Martin: I saw what he looked like, I heard his voice, I texted with, I mean I spent many hours talking to this guy. He robbed me of time.

(laughter)

Jon: Did he say why he was selling the account?

Martin: Yeah, he gave me a reason. He told me he needed money to pay for school. And I say well, that makes sense to me.

Jon: But if they had three million followers, was he monetizing?

Martin: He was doing a horrible job monetizing it. That’s why I was like this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing. He must just know how to grow social media pages but not really understand the business side, and honestly there are a lot of pages like that where they haven’t monetized them very well, and I thought this was another one of those.

Jon: So you bought it, you said a second ago that you wire transferred money.

Martin: Right.

Jon: Was it wire or PayPal? 

Martin: Wire transfer.

Jon: And he gave the bank credentials? 

Martin: Yeah, I guess I suppose. Well, there were two separate payments to him. By credentials what do you mean?

Jon: Wire instructions.

Martin: Yeah.

Jon: The account number and the bank name.

Martin: Yeah, oh yeah.

Jon: Ok, so there were two separate payments. A payment before and a payment after?

Martin: Anything over $10,000, I figured out later, over $10,000, tips off something in America if it’s an international wire, something.

Jon: Triggers something.

Martin: Triggers something, and I figured out that’s probably why he had me—

Jon: So, it was his idea to have you do two—

Martin: —two separate, and I was like okay, I’ll do that. I didn’t understand, I was naïve to it.

(laughter) 

Jon: How old are you?

Martin: 25.

Jon: So the first transfer, how much was it?

Martin: $5,000.

Jon: $5,000. And the first $5,000, was that before you got control of the account or after? 

Martin: He actually gave me control of the account before I sent any money, which might raise a red flag right there for somebody—

Jon: Did it for you?

Martin: No, I was like. We’re buddies.

(laughter)

Martin: So yeah, didn’t raise my flag.

Jon: Ok, so he transfers—was it just the log in that he transferred? The password?

Martin: Yeah, yeah. 

Jon: Ok, he transfers the password. You then, transfer $5,000. How long after did he give you the password did you transfer him the money?

Martin: Maybe a day. He was kinda freaking out, from what I remember. He thought I wasn’t gonna send it, but I was like look, I’m an honest guy.

Jon: And then the second payment, how long was that before it was transferred?

Martin: I sent it the next day after the first five, yeah.

Jon: Let’s do a spoiler alert and go back and fill in the gap. You don’t have the account anymore, correct?

Martin: No, I don’t.

Jon: What happened to it?

Martin: I wish there was some great story I could tell, but it was taken like couple weeks after I got it, it was gone. And then I found it back for sale—

(laughter)

Martin --on the original site I got it from, and I went back to the guy and I told him and I was like, “hey, did you take this?” and he’s not gonna say, “yeah,” so he’s like “no absolutely not,” and I was like ah, I know he did but I can’t do anything about it. He was not even in America.   

Jon: Where was it? What country?

(laughter)

Martin: Turkey.

Jon: Turkey, OK. 

(laughter)

Jon: So, you wire money to Turkey, and we’ve talked about this before. This is to get the story out—

Martin: Right.

Jon: —and then, the account is hacked from you after how many weeks?

Martin: It was a couple weeks, yeah.

Jon: But you’re not sure that it’s the guy that originally sold it to you? I mean probably.

Martin: I mean, I’m not sure but I mean 95% sure. It was back for sale on the same site I got it from—

Jon: How long after—

Martin: --at the same price, so it’s probably the same guy.

(laughter)

Jon: And did it look to you like somebody bought it? 

Martin: Again? Yeah, yeah. I saw that the account had changed a little bit again, and it was off that website and somebody else had bought it. So who knows how many times this guy has bought and sold it, you know? I didn’t even know that was a thing but…

Jon: Is the site currently up?

Martin: Not to my knowledge. It looks like Instagram probably took it off or something happened.

Jon: How did you value the account? Like when you saw that there was this art site for sale for this amount of money, how did you say that’s a good deal or not a good deal? 

Martin: Oh, I mean for me, I knew I could absolutely make a killing off of it. I mean I was speaking to people in the industry, and we were gonna monetize it and we were thinking I mean hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars a year I could monetize this for. You know, $15,000 was nothing for this.

Jon: Right.

Martin: And not to say you can’t do that. I mean I’m sure other people have done that with other pages, you know? 

Jon: So, the first thing, you get it. You log in, did you change the password?

Martin: Yeah, and email.

Jon: And is it, was it, affiliated with your Facebook account?

Martin: Yeah, I connected it to a Facebook page connected to my account. 

Jon: And did you change that account as well? Password to that account?

Martin: Yeah.

Jon: Do you have any idea how this guy hacked in and got in after you changed the passwords?

Martin: Well, I think he’s a good hacker. That’s what, you know, my philosophy is he went into Instagram’s code and then somehow took it back—I don’t know. I have no idea how to do any of that.

Jon: Well good. He’s not an honest guy.

(laughter)

Martin: Yeah.

Jon: Ok so, take away lessons. Would you do it again? Let me rephrase that. Are there circumstances under which you would do it again?

Martin: Circumstances? Uh, maybe, you know.

Jon: What would you do differently?

Martin: Make sure he wasn’t in Turkey.

(laughter)

Jon: Ok, rule 1. Make sure they’re not in Turkey. 

Martin: Yeah, I would not wire transfer the money. I would go through PayPal only. It doesn’t matter how good the account looks, I would go through PayPal. 

Jon: And why PayPal?

Martin: PayPal, you can pull back the money—there’s a dispute process on PayPal. Wire transfer, it doesn’t really work like that. 

Jon: What advice would you give for someone who’s thinking about buying an Instagram account?

Martin: Probably don’t do it unless you really know what you’re doing. And, the only way to know what you’re doing is to do a ton of research on it and maybe even make mistakes like me.

(laughter) 

Martin: So, yeah that’s my advice.

Jon: OK, well Martin, thank you. 

Martin: Yeah, no problem. 

______________________________________________________________________________

The Creative Influencer is a bi-weekly podcast where we discuss all things creative with an emphasis on Influencers. It is hosted by Jon Pfeiffer, an entertainment attorney in Santa Monica, California. Jon interviews influencers, creatives and the professionals who work with them. 

  • The Creative Influencer , Podcast , Influencers | Social Media
  • Jul 25, 2018

Featured Posts

Categories

Get in touch with Jon and his Team

Call Us at 310.451.5800 or Email Jon Newsletter Signup