The Real Stories blog series features OneRep customers who have experienced online privacy violations and shared how serious the consequences can be. This story focuses on a stolen youtube blog and the efforts made to return it to its rightful owner.
Imagine this, you have a Youtube channel with hundreds of thousands of subscribers. It is your life project and your full time job. One day you receive a promo email, open it, follow a link in the email, and all of a sudden it’s not your channel anymore.
That’s exactly what happened to our customer Larry T. from Jersey City, NJ. He shares his alarming story below.
I manage a YouTube channel about home improvement. It had taken me a while, but this past year, my channel passed the 500,000 subscriber mark. Then, one Friday, after opening a seemingly innocuous email, it all disappeared. Within hours of clicking a link, my channel was hijacked and turned into a gaming platform with endless video streams. My subscribers became confused and many of them started to unfollow.
“Imagine this, you have a Youtube channel with hundreds of thousands of subscribers. One day you receive a promo email, open it, follow a link in the email, and all of a sudden it’s not your channel anymore.”
I wrote to the YouTube support team while doing my own research on what happened to my channel and looking for people with a similar problem. It took me hours to explain to the people at YouTube what had just happened. I tried to speed the process up as much as I could by attaching my ID and the proof that the channel belonged to me, but it didn’t help much. YouTube thought I was the fraudster writing from an unfamiliar email address. They demanded I return someone else’s channel. It took a lot of my time and energy. I had to complete forms and initiate legal procedures in order for them to take me seriously. The situation was bad. The fact that it happened right before the weekend made it even more difficult and frustrating.
I couldn’t stop thinking about what else I could do to stop these fraudulent broadcasts on my channel. I decided to ask my followers on Instagram to report the channel and write messages to the YouTube support. The next day, my channel was suspended and was no longer available for both my followers and the hackers. Not long after, the channel was blocked, and I received an email with a ransom offer. That was the first and the last time the hackers contacted me.
The whole thing took about a week to resolve and finally, YouTube sent me an email with a link to restore the channel. I followed it, completed all the procedures they asked me to do, and regained the ownership of my channel at last!
I’m now a lot more careful with the emails I open, and I’ve also subscribed to OneRep to help me remove my contact information from the internet.
Bitter Privacy Lessons To Remember
Even if you are not a popular blogger with thousands of subscribers, you’re not immune to email phishing scams and other sorts of online fraud. OneRep offers these simple tips to protect yourself from cyber threats:
- Don’t open suspicious emails and do not click on the links in them. Or at least do it from a computer that is not connected to your home network where you store your personal data.
- Don’t save your passwords in a browser. Use password manager apps instead. Also, make sure all of your passwords are complex – use capital letters, numbers and various symbols.
- Use privacy protection services like VPN, antivirus and others to secure your personal data on the Internet.
- Remove your personal details such as your email address, phone number and other contact info from the internet. OneRep is here to help. We monitor your personal information online and we remove unauthorized listings on your behalf from 159 people-search engines.