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Chicago Real Estate Broker Forced To Start Over After Hacker Locks Her Out Of Instagram Page And Scams Her Followers

CHICAGO (CBS) -- These days, business owners can spend a lot of time and big money promoting their brands on Instagram.

The social media platform is how Chicago real estate broker and architect Nancy Gordon worked to grow her company in the last few years. But one link - one message - took so much of that hard work away.

She told CBS 2's Marie Saavedra you may think you'll get helped if you're hacked. – but she didn't.

Gordon has a goal when she shares her work on Instagram.

"I want my page to be a place where people come to learn, to see opportunities, and to really feel empowered," she said.

At Gordon's FancyHavenMaven, you'll find 800 some posts of listings and design tips. And now, Gordon can't even access them herself anymore.

It is all due to a message she received on the Feb. 7, from a store owner she had been chatting with about finding a product. The message read - with a period rather than a question mark at the end of the sentence - "Can I send you a link and you send it back to me."

"So I got a DM from who I thought was this woman saying, 'Can I text you a link?' - what I thought was to order a product, 'and you can text it back to me,'" Gordon said.

The message was not really from the store owner. It was from a hacker who had taken over the account of the store and wasted no time locking Gordon out of her own account too. Gordon immediately tried to report it through the Instagram app, but hit brick walls - so she emailed Instagram's executives. She even reaching out to the app's accounting office, whom she'd paid plenty of money to for promoted posts.

"I have never, to this day, gotten a response from anyone," Gordon said.

In the last 14 days, Gordon says the hacker has scammed two of her followers out of several thousand dollars in a Bitcoin scheme. The hacker even messaged Saavedra herself - trying the ploy after she followed the account, with that same message now coming from the FancyHavenMaven account, "Can I send you a link and you send it back to me."

"That there is zero help - and you can't even report the problem - is there anything worse than that?" Gordon said. "This person is going to have control of my page forever."

At a loss, Gordon created a new page, Chicago Haven Maven.

She is also warning her followers. She feels betrayed enough to want to leave the platform, and is frustrated that she feels she can't - because these days, Instagram is part of doing business, whether it protects hers or not.

"Knowing that that platform has that much power and how much money they make - for them to sit there and say we are working to create the safe space, but they are knowingly doing the absolute minimum - it couldn't be more disconnected," Gordon said.

We've covered many stories about people getting hacked out of their Facebook or Instagram accounts. In the past, we've heard back from Meta with promises to look into our viewers' issues.

That is not the case with this one. Just like Gordon, CBS 2's Saavedra still had not heard back from Meta as of late Monday night. But we'll keep trying.

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