Saturday, July 2News Written in the Stars

Fraud Alert: I’ve been impersonated on Instagram

Fraud Alert: I’ve been impersonated on Instagram
Fraud Alert: I’ve been impersonated on Instagram

I’m writing to you all as some of our readers have been scammed by fraudulent Instagram accounts pretending to be me. Please be careful of this and online scammers in general.

I have put together the below to detail this particular Instagram fraud scheme, with some more general information to help you stay safe.

Fraud alert: I’ve been impersonated on Instagram

In light of the upcoming Full Moon in Sagittarius square Neptune, I’d like to talk about a sensitive topic: online scammers. 

It’s not only Astro Butterfly’s Instagram account that has been impersonated. Almost all astrologers have impersonators, i.e. fake copycat accounts on Instagram.

If you received DMs from an Astro Butterfly account, please ignore, do not engage, and do not send private information or money. I will NEVER send you direct messages asking for a reading. 

If you are approached by a scammer via an Instagram DM, just report their account – when Instagram gets a sufficient number of reports, they will shut down their account.

Never underestimate your contribution to stopping these scamming schemes – it only takes a moment and you can truly make a difference; it may be your report that gets their account shut and stops them from scamming other people. 

The Instagram Impersonating Scamming is highly organized crime.

Impersonators’ operating model:

STEP 1: They create a fake copycat Instagram account. They will copy the astrologer’s logo, bio section, and posts, so that their account looks like the genuine astrologer’s account. At a closer look you’ll notice that the fake account includes an extra letter or punctuation mark, e.g. Astro Butteerfly, Astro Butterflly etc. 

STEP 2: They then buy fake followers who will “follow” the impersonating page to make it look more credible. These fake accounts who follow the fake page are easy to recognize: they have an unusual IG handle, only 18-19 posts, follow a few thousand Instagram accounts, yet only have 2-10 followers themselves. 

STEP 3: Once the fake Instagram account reaches a few hundred followers, they start to follow followers of the genuine Instagram account. For example, if you follow my “Astro Butterfly” Instagram account, you may notice that “Astro Butterfly” started following you. The problem here is that that’s not Astro Butterfly – it is the impersonator. 

STEP 4: If you follow back their page, they will soon send you a private message asking for a reading. This is the message they send (there may be variations):

STEP 5: If you express interest in a reading, they will offer you a choice from “Birth chart reading”, “General reading”, “Future reading”, “Relationship reading” and “Tarot card reading”.

Once you agree on a type of reading, they will ask for your name and date of birth. Note that they don’t ask for the place and time of birth, which are details any real astrologer will ask. 

Once you give them your details, they will then ask you to make a payment using PayPal’s “friends and family option”.

This should immediately raise suspicion; if you’ve been scammed and sent PayPal funds with the “friends and family option” follow these steps to report the transaction and get your money back: https://donotpay.com/learn/paypal-friends-and-family-refund/ 

Esther Wanjala ew562048@gmail.com, Boor Mathew boormathew@gmail.com are some of the fake identities they operate under. If you’ve been contacted and have other names or PayPal addresses, please reach out to help me to update the list. 

My heartfelt compassion goes to all the people who have been the victims of online scamming. 

If you’ve been the victim of online scamming:

  • It’s not your fault. Of course, it may seem an obvious thing to say, but some people still feel ashamed for being scammed. Keep in mind that this is highly organized crime, these criminals have perfected their craft and anyone can fall prey to their tactics. Online scamming can happen to anyone – including IT and security experts. 
  • Pay attention to warning signs. Fraudsters usually use unusual language, write with spelling mistakes, or pressure you into giving them money. All these are warning signs that something is not right. If something feels ‘off’ about them, then it probably is. Asking for money, pressuring you into sending them money should make your alarm bells go off. Don’t make any payment over the phone or via money apps – when you purchase a product or a service, do so only from the company’s encrypted checkout page on their website. 
  • Take action. Whether that’s reporting their online account, warning other possible victims, or taking legal action, don’t let them get away with it. If you’ve been scammed, ask for a chargeback (if you paid by credit card) or report the transaction as fraudulent (Paypal or other money apps). 

Call to action: If you’re an astrologer who is or has been impersonated on Instagram, or if you’re an astrology enthusiast who has any information about the scammers (names, email addresses, phone numbers, Paypal accounts, anything else), please reach out to me. I will compile as much evidence as possible to track them down. 

The upcoming Full Moon in Sagittarius (on June 14th) is square Neptune. Even if online scamming may not be a theme in your life right now, keep your eyes wide open.

Just like any other planet, Neptune has negative and positive expressions. In the days building up to the Full Moon, note where reality is being twisted, and take this opportunity to reflect on what’s real and what’s not. 

 

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