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Are You On The List? 'Ugly' Scam Targets Instagram Users

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — We all try to put our best foot forward when posting pictures on social media.

So, imagine the embarrassment when one of your friends sends you a message saying your picture has made on of the Internet's most notorious "ugly lists."

One young woman says she was shocked and upset to hear her picture was on the list.

"Some mean people had made a list of the ugly people on Instagram," she said. "I got really mad."

With as many as 500 million users, imagine being labeled ugly for everyone to see on the most popular photo-sharing site in the world.

But when some users clicked on the link, some got more than they bargained for. They got hacked.

"This scam, like so many scams, has to do with an emotional hook," said Claire Rosenzweig, president of the Better Business Bureau.

Rosenzweig says the "ugly list" is all just a ruse.

"It takes them to a site that looks like the Instagram site, asks for their password," she said.

Ryan Olson, intelligence director for an elite team of cyber security experts with Palo Alto Networks, says phishing scams like the "ugly list" are successful by casting a wide net and then playing off people's insecurities.

"They're driven by the desire to know, 'Am I on the list or not?' " said Olson.

Cyber threat expert Chase Cunningham says millennials are increasingly becoming targets of these scams.

"It's just a perfect storm," Cunningham said.

If you want to beef up security for your smartphone or other device, Cunningham created a free app called CynjaSpace that monitors your content and sends you a message if it detects anything fraudulent.

Instagram, meanwhile, prohibits people from using their service for illegal or unauthorized purposes and has set up a page for users to report abuse.

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