July 10th, 2022
How could I be so stupid?
I stared, dumbfounded, at my phone. A hacker locked me out of my Instagram account and was currently spamming my friend’s inbox messages. With my password changed, I lost access to my Instagram account.
All because I fell for a silly scam.
I’ve been doing a lot of silly things lately.
Initially, I thought I was talking to a relative about a Bitcoin investment they were supposedly involved with (turns out their Instagram account was hacked as well). They asked me to make a video to support their business and I was happy to help. The part where I messed up is where I allowed them access to my Instagram account. Suddenly I was receiving a flurry of phone calls, Facebook messages, and texts from friends telling me I had been hacked. Turns out the hacker used my video that was supposed to support my cousin to trick friends into investing in Bitcoin.
Praise God I was at least wise enough to give out any debit card or banking information. After imploring my friends to report, unfollow and block my account, I kept thinking “How could I be so stupid? So gullible? Why didn’t I question if this was really my relative? What happened to being wise and discerning? How could I have fallen for this?
Embarrassed, I spent this weekend mulling over my lost Instagram account. An account which was gaining traction and being used to encourage followers with the Word of God.
Turns out a pesky little devil wanted to stop that traction and derail the goal of my Instagram page. Further, I was so discouraged by what happened and the large part I played in this situation, I didn’t complete my writing goal for this weekend. The desire, thrill, and invigoration for my writing projects dissipated in a cloud of condemnation. Praise God that He pulled me to write this blog post!
When we make a mistake or fall into a scam, it’s easy to fall into self-pity and shame. Our enemy does whatever he can to put the brakes on our goals, especially when we are trying to spread the Gospel of Jesus. Around every corner, he lurks, with his foot stuck out to trip us and guffaws as we face plant on the concrete of life’s challenges, setbacks, and humiliating moments.
And if we stay face planted in our shame, we can never rise up, dust off our pants, and let God tend to our wounds.
The Bible always is the antidote to shame. Scriptures I’m going to hold on to for this week are Proverbs 24:16, “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked” . Another is Romans 8:1, “So there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.
The Instagram Incident reminds me of a time I made another mistake, this one back in March. A friend and their daughter were staying with me due to a sensitive situation. I happily jumped at the opportunity to serve a friend in need. I enjoyed their company and saw this as a chance to bond with someone from the church. Things were going well for three weeks. Then, on a particularly stressful day at work, I came home exhausted and emotionally spent. Fresh off the grief of losing my grandmother, student needs at an all-time high, and general insomnia, I plopped down on my bed and closed my eyes for what I thought was for fifteen minutes.
When I woke up, groggy and bleary-eyed, I saw a bunch (15 if I remember correctly) of missed calls and a text that read I’m really worried, I am calling the police. I shot up out of the sleepy stupor. Police?? Was someone trying to break into the apartment?? After scrolling through the text, I realized that it was close to 10: 30 PM. Turns out I accidentally locked my friend and their daughter out of the house and they tried to get in contact with me. I immediately called them back only for another woman from the church to answer. She explained that my friend and her daughter were now at her place. She asked me how did this happen, had I been on medication?
I felt the condemnation creep up. The following day, when I was about to text my friend to apologize profusely for what happened, they read my mind. They ended up leaving that morning, saying that the incident from the previous night was the reason they couldn’t stay with me anymore.
Those memories flashbacked this weekend. How similar thoughts of “How could I be so careless? Why didn’t I set the alarm?? What would the other members think if my friend told them about the incident?
We each have our weaknesses; shame is a huge one for me. And that’s where the devil strikes.
I have to remember I am human. I make mistakes. Some small. Some large. What I do after is what matters. Paul in Philippians 3:13 to forget what’s in the past and try to reach the goals in front of us . Similarly in Isaiah 43:18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past”. That means “if I just” or “This wouldn’t ofs”.
Going forward, I now know to be more discerning when presented with an offer too good to be true. To ask questions. To investigate.
We learn when we make mistakes. We become smarter and wiser. We can help others avoid the same mistakes we made.
Speaking of helping others avoid being scammed.
1. If ANYONE messages you with an offer for Bitcoin or other too good to be true opportunities. Ask a ton of questions. Hackers will start to become agitated and pressure you for an immediate answer to their “offer”. Reply “No thank you” and block on whichever social media site they messaged you through.
2. If a relative or friend messages you, call them immediately to ask if they really sent the message. If not, their social media account has been compromised, and let them know right away.
3. Common sites where hackers try their scams: Instagram, Facebook, and Whatsapp.
4. Sometimes you’ll get a message on Whatsapp from someone claiming they meant to message someone else. They’ll try and sweet talk you into forming a relationship (this also happened to me. I tell ya, I’m going through some surreal situations). Do not respond and again, block that account.
God uses our experiences so that we can be a support to others.
Maybe Silly isn’t so bad after all. Lesson Learned.
Helpful Youtube Video about Social Media Scams