While watching TV last week, I was absent-mindedly scrolling though Instagram, “liking” random photos of British royalty and Patriots, equally. Somehow, I must have liked and followed something called “julianedelmanofficialfanpage”. If it really was his fan page, it would have been marked with a blue checked circle, as is every account of a famous person, but I wasn’t paying close attention. The photos were real enough; Julian at the Kentucky Derby with Brady and friends, Julian in full gear, Julian in white dinner jacket at the Met Gala. They were all standard photos that were also on his official page (I also follow his official Instagram, so I’ve seen the photos). I didn’t think anything of it.
A day or so later, I received a private message from the account; something to the effect that every season he picks five fans to get to know better and I was one this season. Where did I live? I answered: Newton, MA. Seemed harmless.
The next day I received another message from the account. It was full of misspellings and poor grammar, which set off some alarm bells for me. The questions were even weirder, but I tend to be a trusting person…too trusting. This time, the account asked me to say a bit about myself and send a photo (of course, there is my avatar, which clearly shows me, but still). I said I was middle aged, sing in a community chorus and like to watch the Patriots on my flat screen at home. I sent a photo from a year ago. The response was totally inappropriate, asking to meet me. I was very alarmed, deleted all my answers and unfollowed the account immediately. He has my name (which is my Instagram account name; I should probably change it) and knows what town I live in. It is very concerning.
And goes to show that you should be VERY careful who you follow and what you say on social media. There are a lot of creeps out there.
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.
Thanks for sharing this, Betsy. Going through my email has become a minefield due to phishing schemes. I delete almost everything and don’t click on any links unless I personally know the person. Even then, lots of my friends’ emails have been hacked. It’s exhausting!
Yes, social media can be a minefield with all sorts of hacking. What happened to me frightened me so much that I thought I’d share it with this community, even though I already had another story up. Obviously I was stupid and too trusting, but now this creep knows my name and what city I live in, so I must be extra careful as I wander around alone at night. Very frightening prospect.
Thanks so much for the cautionary tale, Betsy. It is a good reminder of what a creepy, dangerous minefield (to use Laurie’s very good metaphor) out there. And what could be seemingly more innocuous than what appears to be a Patriot’s fan page, especially for us Bostonians? Of course, on reflection, that is exactly the approach that would be taken, rather than the stuff that scares one off instantly.
I don’t do Instagram — I save my social media faux pas for odious Facebook (don’t get me started about their gutlessness in not taking down the doctored Nancy Pelosi video) — but hope there is some way that you can permanently disconnect from this account.
I deleted all comments and stopped following the account so perhaps the creep has no way to remember who I am. That’s my hope anyway. And I have always been careful with FB and usually with Instagram to only friend people I know. This was the odd occurrence because it was a celebrity and I didn’t pay attention to the verification code.
Enjoyed reading this, Betsy. I play “Words with Friends” online, and too many fellow players (usually guys) use it as a potential dating site. Ugh.
The internet has become a ripe hunting ground for trolling, I’m afraid.
Betsy, thank you for sharing this cautionary tale. (That phrase always makes me think of the movie Juno, where she says she is a cautionary whale.)
I don’t know who Julian Edelman is, but I gather from John’s comment that he is on the Patriots. And now I’m realizing that it must be he in the Featured Image. The scammer had a clever angle, saying every year he picks 5 fans to get to know better. I don’t blame you for falling for it. I’m sure he’s not going to come looking for you in Newton, so I think you’ve done everything you need to do to protect yourself.
I think I’m safe but I really was jolted when I realized what a fool I’d been. Just goes to show how easily we can be taken in.
Certainly a scary tale, Betsy. I’m guessing this kind of cyber stalking happens more frequently to women, but I don’t know. But then, I didn’t know who Julian Edelman is, either.
I can assure you that I am much more careful these days, but then I thought I was already being careful. Now I’m super diligent. Suzy didn’t know about Edelman either. You have to be a Patriots fan – it’s a Boston thing.