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Miss England contest alerts police after cybercriminals hack beauty queens’ accounts

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Miss Newcastle, Alisha Cowie is crowned Miss England 2018 at Kelham Hall & Country Park, Newark, Nottinghamshire.

Miss Newcastle, Alisha Cowie is crowned Miss England 2018 at Kelham Hall & Country Park, Newark, Nottinghamshire. (File photo, PA)

Miss England beauty queen contestants have been targeted by cybercriminals, prompting the pageant organisers to call in the police.

The competition’s Instagram account was hacked last week by Turkish scammers, who demanded cash to hand back control.

The Miss England account, which has over 23,000 followers, is still in the hands of online crooks nine days on from the cyber attack.

Meanwhile, beauty queens are now facing attacks from the same fraudsters, who are attempting to hijack their Instagram profiles as well.

Read: Fines worth £11,000 handed to people at child’s birthday party

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The sophisticated scam has sparked fears that the contestants, who rely on social media for exposure, could be duped by the hackers.

Current Miss England and NHS doctor Bhasha Mukherjee, 24, is among those targeted by the online crooks as well as serving Miss London Jessica Kang.

Organiser Angie Beasley said she was also hacked during a late-night scroll through social media after she received what appeared to be a legitimate message from Instagram at around 10.30 pm on Tuesday.

It asked her to confirm her identity or risk the account being shut down due to violating Instagram policies.

After clicking a confirmation code sent to her mobile, the conmen managed to gain access to the pageants account.

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The hackers then directly messaged her on WhatsApp less than 24 hours, saying: “If you want to save your account we can make a deal with you.”

Beasley said she contacted Action Fraud UK, a reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, which has referred the matter to Leicestershire Police.

She said: “I felt like such a fool, it just all happened so quick – I could kick myself. As soon as I gave them the code the screenshot of my Instagram account came up with a picture of someone waving at me.

“The next thing I knew I couldn’t get into the account as they had taken it over but it didn’t dawn on me till about 10 minutes later on what had happened.

“Since then they have changed the account to five different names and it is now also a private account.”

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Beasley said the hackers are now contacting people who also follow the account including other beauty pageant contestants, trying to trick them into the same hoax.

Watch: Miss England: Why I’m giving up crown

She said: “The day after at around 1 pm I had phone calls and messages from an Iran number saying I would have to do a deal to get my account back. They want money.

“I was told by a few influencers that it has happened to them and it can take weeks to get it back if you’re lucky.

“I’m just in shock about how easy it is to get hold of somebody’s account and get the contact details and also get access to all the followers.

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“The fact Miss England is a competition for young girls and these hackers can contact our girls it’s worrying.

Beasley also said she was “shocked” by the lack of assistance from Instagram.

She said: “We have had no help from them whatsoever. I have reported it and sent emails but had no response from them.

“I have now contacted Action Fraud and they put it through to Leicestershire Police and they have assigned me an officer to deal with it.

“But he has told me that he doesn’t think they will be able to do much especially if it’s hackers from abroad, so he’s doubtful if they will be able to do anything to help.

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“It’s a great shame we have had the account for around seven years and to just lose it in a flash is very concerning.”

Current Miss London Jessica Kang, 26 of South Ealing, West London, was also targeted by the scammers on Sunday.

Jessica, who is due to take part in the finals of Miss England after dropping four dress sizes, uses her Instagram page as a platform to help others trying to lose weight.

She said: “I received a message but Miss England had already let me know the Instagram issue so I knew it was the hackers.

“Otherwise I think it would have been really easy to fall for. It was pretty convincing. The current Miss England Bhasha Mukherjee told me they were targeting the Miss England contestants linked to the account.

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“I started getting paranoid so I went and changed my password four times and also my Facebook password as they’re connected.

“I was worried as I don’t want anything to happen to my Instagram account as it’s my professional account.”

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A Leicestershire Police spokesperson said: “We have received a report from Action Fraud on Friday 29 January regarding an allegation that a social media account had been hacked.

“Officers are continuing to make enquiries into this report.”

The Miss England contest is currently using @missenglandnews1 on Instagram as they await a response from the social media platform.

Watch: Brazilian women’s prison hosts annual beauty pageant

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August

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Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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