pico de gallo toronto

A Toronto restaurant's Instagram was hacked and they lost thousands of followers

A Toronto restaurant's Instagram account was just hacked, losing them thousands of followers and one of their main forms of communication with the public during lockdown.

Pico de Gallo's Instagram account was not only stolen, it was actually held for ransom. Starting around 7:22 p.m. on Apr. 22, the account @picodegallo.to was hacked, and they've had to start new account @picodegallo.toronto. Make sure you're following the right one, and unfollow and block the wrong one.

The restaurant first got a notification saying someone had logged on using a different device in Toronto, then two minutes later was notified that the password for their Instagram account had been changed.

"We have reported this issue to Instagram help and we have not got any answers," reads the caption to an Instagram post on the new account addressing the issue. 

The post also says that followers have been approached about suspicious Bitcoin transactions.

According to WhatsApp screenshots that follow in the Instagram post, the account was being held for ransom for $300 CAD. This especially frightened the restaurant owners as these messages were sent to a personal cell phone number.

"We were busy at work, that's why we didn't notice on time," Vanessa Cervantes tells blogTO, who co-owns Pico de Gallo with her husband and chef Sergio Maldonado. The couple have a son together, Sergy.

"We tried to log in immediatly after that message at 7:40, but we had no access anymore."

The Kensington restaurant serves tacos, tortas, burritos, chips, salsa and guacamole. Their original account had amassed over 10,000 followers. The new @picodegallo.toronto account now has under 200.

The hacker has since posted to its story that the hacked account was "for sale."

"I tried to change the password and I was able to do it, but because this person activated the two-factor identification and had the app downloaded in their device, the access was denied," Cervantes says. "All the notifications regarding changing password were in Turkish."

"It is very frustrating because we have worked a lot for years to build a social media community, and we had to cancel credit cards, etc."

Today, Instagram finally responded to Pico de Gallo, verifying the identity of Cervantes and sending her a code to log in. When she did so, she discovered at least 100 messages from the hacker trying to sell the account.

"Despite to the fact that today have the access to the IG account, the authenticator is saying that there is another device with our IG account, which does not make it safe for us and our followers," says Cervantes.

They're still requesting help from Instagram to try and get the account back, but may need to delete the account entirely. The account could be deactivated, but apparently that can only be done once a week, and the hacker already deactivated the account for a few minutes this week.

Lead photo by

Pico de Gallo

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