Several websites and hacker forums are now offering “ban-as-a-service” on Instagram. Threat actors use a variety of tricks to get Instagram accounts banned.
“We will close Instagram Accounts for you,” reads the message across a banner for “Instagram Ban-Service” on one hacking forum.
The advertised service offers prices ranging from 5 to 30 Euros, depending on the number of followers the target account has, and even has a Terms of Service agreement for its buyers.
“It is unlikely, but also possible, that the blocked account will be reactivated. If the account is activated, we will ban the account again for half the price. In the unlikely event that we are unable to ban, your money will be refunded.”
Other services advertise prices as high as $60 for the banning or deletion of an account.
One of the common threads for ban-as-a-service offerings is that the target accounts need to have human profile pictures, as opposed to cartoons, business logos, or emojis. While this may sound arbitrary, it’s apparently to exploit one of the most widely used methods to initiate a ban.
“I use an impersonation method where I get my verified IG accounts and change my profile to look exactly like the target’s bio, name, profile photo etc. I report them for impersonation once and boom, they are gone,” said one scammer in an interview with Vice.com.
Other methods include reporting accounts for images of self-harm, or using scripts and botnets to report complaints against a target’s account en masse until they’re banned.
While Instagram has directed users who were targeted by ban-as-a-service operations to a support page, the company currently offers few options to appeal the decision to ban an account.