summerhill market toronto

Toronto grocery chain gets their social media hacked and held for ransom

If you try to visit the Instagram account of a popular grocery chain in Toronto right now, you'll come up with very little.

Summerhill Market has created a little backup account, but their main account was hacked on March 14 and is being held for ransom for $600 USD. They've lost around 17,000 followers.

The small chain of boutique grocery stores is known for stocking some of Toronto's fanciest foods, like freshly prepared pot pies and gourmet products.

"At around 8:59 a.m. on Monday morning, we received an email from Instagram notifying us that our phone number was removed from our account," a representative for Summerhill tells blogTO.

"Then a second email saying there was a new login from a device in Chicago, then another notifying us our password was changed and bam, we were locked out. All of these emails had links saying 'if this was not you, you can secure your account by clicking here,' but each link was broken."

summerhill market toronto

Screenshot of the WhatsApp message from the hacker.

About 15 minutes after the password was changed, the hacker contacted Summerhill via WhatsApp saying they would give the account back for $600, a message they saw on Wednesday.

Summerhill actually paid the $600 USD in BitCoin, but then when the hacker asked for $400 more, they drew the line.

"We made the decision to try and pay them the one amount," says the rep. "We understood this was a $600 risk, but we were willing to take it. We will also be reporting this to the police."

The grocery store tried everything to get the account back from a technical standpoint, and contacted Instagram via "email, phone call, four online forms, a tweet, and a LinkedIn message" to no response.

The backup account they've set up is @summerhillmrkt. They're planning to try to move forward by informing people of the situation via social media, and of course ideally hope to hear back from Instagram to get help resolving the issue.

"17K followers is a huge loss, and having to rebuild is just devastating," says the rep.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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