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An influencer couple has been left devastated after their popular Instagram account was stolen by a hacker who has demanded £30,000 to hand it back.
Al Ferguson, 33, and wife Jen, 43, who founded online forum Dadsnet, have shared their lives with their thousands of followers for seven years – including their seven miscarriages.
The couple from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, post sentimental content including baby scans with their 30,000 followers – as well as captions which formed a diary of their heartbreaks and triumphs over the years.
Gathering a loyal following during their time on Instagram, the husband and wife were horrified to find that they could no longer access their memories due to a mysterious hacker called 'The King'.
Jen said she received a WhatsApp message from the hacker who infiltrated their page, changed their handle, and demanded £1 per follower in ransom on August 29.
They watched in disbelief as their family photo had been replaced with a picture of a bloodied face and the description changed to: 'This Instagram account is held to be sold back to its owner'.
Commenting on the ransom, Al said: "We’re devastated.
“All our emotions and memories from the last seven years were in that account.
“It means so much to us and nothing to the person who's hacked it.
“It’s our photo album of our kids, and all those memories of how we were feeling at the time each picture was taken.”
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Jen added: “It feels like someone has come in and stolen all our diaries.
“They’ve taken our jobs too but the emotional side is much much worse.
“He’s taken all the deepest moments of our parenthood.
“Potentially we will lose contact with people we’ve been supporting for seven years."
The parents, who use the page as a source of income through ads and sponsors, have tried to get it back, but have had no luck – and the account has since disappeared.
“It’s just awful,” Jen added.
“We don’t have any money. It wasn’t even a possibility that we could pay.
“People having miscarriages have called to talk to me when they have no one.
“I think we were among the first to talk about baby-loss so publicly.”
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The couple reported the hack through Jen’s account, but said they have had no luck recovering their cache of memories.
The family said they will also lose money because they wouldn't be able to honour contracts with brands that they had agreed to advertise on their feed.
“The support Insta can offer someone who has been hacked is abysmal. You just can’t speak to a human," said Al.
“We only get paid because we have so many followers, you can’t just build that back as soon as you set up a new account.
“We also save the things brands send us and gift it to families who need it at Christmas.
“Those people won’t be able to find us either now.”
Other business owners contacted them to say the hacker pulled the same stunt on them that night – asking for a pound per follower to unlock.
The family are now documenting their life on a different account under @fergusonsfamily.
Have you experienced a similar situation to Al and Jen? Share your story with [email protected]
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