Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram
Introducing Instagram Reels Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

The Instagram head Adam Mosseri had his account locked and memorialized in September after a scammer, who gives $60 worth of service for banning accounts, misused the application's feature and submitted a false obituary to the support team.

Instagram's memorialization feature was created to let users report deceased account owners. Then the app automatically blocks all activities, including uploading, scanning, making changes, and logging in to the account.

The scammer, who goes by the username @Syenrai, sent the report of Mosseri, 38, being dead. The anonymous user claimed responsibility for Mosseri's Instagram account. "I find it ridiculous how Instagram lets such things even happen on their platform in the first place," the scammer told Vice.

"The entire banning community needs to be discovered and reported to Instagram so they can put an end to this — it's basically the dark side of Instagram." Syenrai showed screenshots of emails sent to Instagram for the memorialization.

In the exchange of messages, Instagram asked for a death certificate, obituary, or news statements with the deceased's full name to verify the request. Syenrai narrated that to be able to get Instagram approval, they created a fake obituary online.

Mosseri's account with one million followers was locked in September. According to the company, they managed to resolve the issue quickly.

Syenrai gave a detailed explanation of their step-by-step process of submitting the memorialization requests using random obituaries. They get multiple bids from paying customers and offer their services at $60 for every account. The scammers only need to create the right picture and get the correct birthdate of the account owner.

They mostly managed to get approval after 1-2 days, but Syenrai highlighted that it might take longer for ordinary users accounts. Based on the scammer's experience, the target account can easily be memorialized as long as the proof is within the same week of the requested date.

"Like other internet services, Instagram has online forms to help people report suspicious activity or to let us know a friend or family member has passed away. Unfortunately, some people abuse these forms, so we hire investigators and cybersecurity specialists to detect scammers' tactics so we can improve and make it increasingly difficult for them," an Instagram spokesperson explained.

Instagram stated that the support team who look through the memorialization requests review the images, name and birthdate of the user to check if it matches the proof details submitted to them.

This memorialization feature on Instagram became a source of income for some. There are a lot of trolls who continuously offer paid services for this kind of act. Instagram created a form with verification requirements for people who had their accounts incorrectly memorialized.

Instagram logo
A picture taken on October 18, 2021 in Moscow shows the US social network Instagram's logo on a tablet screen. Photo by Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

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