An influencer couple say a hacker seized control of their Instagram account, demanding over $40,000 to get it back

Scammer hacker computer on phone
The couple say they were hacked and their Instagram account was held to ransom. Motortion/Getty Images
  • Instagram influencer couple Al and Jen Ferguson say they were targeted by a hacker.
  • They were told that they had to pay £1 per follower to get their Instagram account back, they said.
  • The Fergusons have since said they retrieved the account thanks to a contact at the company.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Influencer couple Al and Jen Ferguson say they had their joint Instagram account targeted by a hacker on August 29. The person behind the attack, who called themselves “The King,” told the Fergusons they would have to pay £1 per follower to get it back, as reported by The Mirror.

The couple, who are from Kent in the UK, have more than 30,000 followers on their account @itsthefergusons, so such a ransom would cost them over £30,000 ($US41,500 ($AU56,312)) in total.

As well as deleting all their photos, the hacker changed the couple’s Instagram bio to, “This Instagram account is held to be sold back to its owner,” and switched their profile picture to an image of a bloodied face, according to The Mirror.

“We’re devastated,” Al told the outlet at the time. “All our emotions and memories from the last seven years were in that account. It means so much to us and nothing to the person who’s hacked it. It’s our photo album of our kids, and all those memories of how we were feeling at the time each picture was taken.”

Jen told The Mirror it felt like “someone has come in and stolen all our diaries.”

“He’s taken all the deepest moments of our parenthood,” she said, which included the couple’s personal journeys through pregnancies and miscarriages. “Potentially we will lose contact with people we’ve been supporting for seven years.”

The Fergusons set up a new Instagram account called @fergusonsfamily, and said they would not be paying the ransom.

“Thank you for following our new account and giving a [middle finger emoji] to the hackers,” they said in their first post. “We don’t have £30k to pay the ransom for our old account so here we are all brand new and shiny! PLEASE PLEASE SHARE THIS NEW ACCOUNT AND HELP EVERYONE FIND US AGAIN X.”

A post shared by Al & Jen. Reel life couple (@fergusonsfamily)

On September 6, the couple’s Instagram account @itsthefergusons appeared to return, posting a video showing screenshots of purported WhatsApp messages from the hacker. The caption said the Fergusons had a close contact at Facebook who helped them retrieve the account.

“We have managed to save and store our images and our captions,” the post reads. “And whilst it may take time to get everything back up and working again, for now we are just so incredibly grateful for YOU and your support meaning that we have got our memories back. THANK YOU.”

BuzzFeed News reported in August that influencers were resorting to desperate measures when their accounts were deleted or hacked, contacting Instagram dealers who claim to have connections at the platform.

A post shared by Al & Jen Ferguson (@itsthefergusons)

Al and Jen Ferguson declined Insider’s request for comment. Instagram did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For more stories like this, check out coverage from Insider’s Digital Culture team here.