If you’re a student athlete at the University of Michigan, or anywhere else for that matter, you may want to double-check your social media accounts and make sure they are secure.
On Wednesday, a hacker took over The Winged Helmet account on Instagram. Shortly after doing so, the hacker then targeted several University of Michigan football players – successfully hacking the accounts of Braiden McGregor, Colston Loveland and former Wolverine, Jalen Mayfield. The hacker also targeted the accounts of UM quarterback JJ McCarthy and running back Blake Corum, but fortunately both athletes weren’t impacted.
In addition to using the account, the hacker is also using the account of former Oregon Ducks Baseball player, Kenyon Yovan, to prey on other student athletes in an effort to steal their accounts as well.
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Here’s how the scam works:
- The hacker will reach out from a verified account that he/she has stolen.
- They will offer a partnership deal through a shoe affiliate program. In exchange for sending you a new pair of shoes each month, the hacker simply asks you to post pictures of you wearing the shoes to your social media account and to tag them in your post.
- In order to become part of the shoe affiliate program, you need to sign up. This is where the hacker sends you a link for the program. The link will take you to a page with Bleacher Report markings and give you the options to sign up with your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account.
- As soon as you sign up to become part of the affiliate program, that’s it – your account now belongs to the hacker. You’ll become painfully aware of this as you will undoubtedly receive several emails from Instagram informing you that your email, phone number and password has all been changed.
While some may view the loss of a social media page as rather insignificant, the reality is that many student athletes are able to capitalize on NIL opportunities as a result of their social media presence. For a student athlete who has secured an NIL deal that includes promoting products or services, the loss of a social media presence could also mean the loss of a significant deal.
As it stands today, the hacker is still in control of both verified Instagram accounts — The Winged Helmet and Kenyon Yovan — and is still actively using them to scam other individuals. In spite of many requests to Instagram for assistance, the social media platform has been completely unresponsive.