Hughes Clothing owner Rebecca Burrows. (Courtesy of Rebecca Burrows)

Hughes Clothing owner Rebecca Burrows. (Courtesy of Rebecca Burrows)

Island woman wants accountability after Instagram hacked, naked photos demanded

Hughes Clothing owner creating non-profit to lobby internet giant for better response

A Vancouver Island business owner has made it her mission to make social media platforms more accountable after a hacker seized her Instagram account and demanded naked photos in return last week.

On Jan. 28, Rebecca Burrows, owner of Oak Bay’s Hughes Clothing, received a message from what looked like Instagram saying that it was having some problems with copyright infringement and asking her to fill out a form with some personal information. Worried that she may have accidentally posted a distributor’s photo without proper permission, Burrows filled out and sent in the form.

Soon after, she discovered her credit card, email and Instagram had been hacked and she no longer had control of her account.

RELATED: Spoofed phone numbers, requests for cash by mail among recent fraud attempts in Saanich

When Burrows messaged the hacker through her personal Instagram and asked for her account back, he responded that he would return it on one condition – that she send naked photos of herself.

“I was mortified,” Burrows said. “I was almost ashamed, which I think in a lot of violations that’s a normal feeling. You right away go to blame yourself.”

On Wednesday night, Burrows found out the invasion hadn’t stopped with her. The hacker also found and messaged her 12-year-old step-daughter and sent her a sleazy photo of himself.

“It was just gross,” Burrows said. “Inappropriate beyond measure.”

RELATED: Victoria police now investigating reports of sexual assault, harassment at downtown restaurant

Since then, Burrows said she has sent more than 100 messages to Instagram reporting the incident and the hacker’s account, but the only response she has gotten is an automated “we found this account likely doesn’t go against our Community Guidelines.” She also reported it to police but was told because it was online and the hacker doesn’t appear to live in Canada, there is nothing they can do.

“There’s this big kind of universe out there that’s unpoliced,” she said. Perhaps the biggest frustration, Burrows added, is that it is impossible to get in touch with an actual person at conglomerates like Facebook – which owns Instagram.

So, Burrows has decided to take it upon herself to change that. She is starting a non-profit with the goal of lobbying conglomerates to create a 1-800 number with real people on the other end to help individuals – especially women and children – who have been sexually targeted on their platforms. She is also working to get the government to hold online platforms to account.

“I want to leave my mark and make something good out of something bad that happened.”

The new Hughes Clothing Instagram account can be found at @hughesclothingvictoria.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

RELATED: Hughes Clothing comes home to Oak Bay


Do you have a story tip? Email: jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

hackersLocal Businessoak bay

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kyle Patrick McGuire was give a nine-month non-custodial sentencing to be followed by two years of probation on Wednesday, March 3, at the Nanaimo Law Courts. (PQB News file photo)
Bowser man sentenced to house arrest after guilty plea to child pornography offence

Nine-month non-custodial sentence to be followed by two years probation

The Regional District of Nanaimo faces challenges with garbage bin replacement requests. (Michael Briones photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo faces challenges to meet requests for garbage bin replacements

Waste manager says RDN will have a surplus of 100-litre carts

Members of the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. set up the tube where rainbow trout were released into Spider Lake on Thursday, March 4, 2021. (Michael Briones photo)
Fishing time: 1,800 rainbow trout released into Spider Lake

Society records spike in fishing licences during pandemic

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read