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Scammer hijacks Denver tattoo shop's social media, steals deposits from clients

Instagram says imposter's actions do not violate community guidelines
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The Wolf Den Custom Tattoo Studio & Gallery
Ryane Rose- tattoo artist
Posted at 9:45 PM, Feb 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-18 00:16:24-05

DENVER — Ryane and Jess Rose have spent their life building The Wolf Den. Partners in life and business, the pair call the East Colfax Tattoo studio and gallery their "sacred space."

But when that sacred space was violated by an online imposter, they picked up the phone to call Denver7 investigators.

Ryane and Jess say their business account was hacked on Instagram. It started with a phone call from a number they didn't recognize.

"This guy goes, 'If you give me $499, I will give your Instagram back to you,'" Ryane recalled.

Ryane says it didn't take long to realize they had been shut out of their account.

After pleading with The Wolf Den imposter, he wouldn't budge. Ryane recalled the conversation, saying,

"And he's like, 'Well you know, you have your business, right?' And he goes, 'Well, this is mine,'' Ryane said.

Instead of paying up, Ryane and Jess held onto hope that Instagram would shut down the bad guy. They filed an online complaint with the app, and a report with the Denver Police Department.

But the money grab didn't stop there. Ryane and Jess tell Denver7 Investigates the imposter took to their direct messages, targeting clients by taking deposits for a tattoo they'd never get.

"You have no idea how taxing this has been. Like, the phone has been ringing all day, every day, people being robbed because he's pretending to be me," Ryane said.

"It's been a ripple effect," Jess said. "This has become a full-time job answering phone calls every single day, answering DMs, answering emails."

Jewel Johnson is one of the hundreds of loyal customers turned helpless victims.

"I got a message on Instagram from Wolf Den, and they said, 'Would you like to book an appointment?' And I said, 'Of course,'" Johnson said.

As soon as she paid a $200 deposit, Johnson said The Wolf Den fake asked her for more. That's when she started to think twice.

"And I thought that was really weird. I asked, 'Who was I talking to?' And they said Ryane," Johnson said.

"He's banking off of established relationships. So he's reaching out to every single client that I've ever had social media contact with," Ryane said.

Jess and Ryan say the lack of action by Instagram has left them feeling hopeless. They, along with many of their customers, have filed countless complaints in an attempt to flag the page to no avail. The social media giant sent automated replies, claiming the fake account hadn't violated community guidelines.

Denver7 Investigates also sent emails and called multiple times in an attempt to get a hold of representatives with Instagram's parent company, Meta. Our team hit the same roadblocks.

Now, The Wolf Den owners say they want accountability and for Instagram to take action.

"If I was a sheep, I wouldn't be here talking to you today. So I'm still very much a wolf. This is our pack, this is our message," Ryane said.

Denver7 Investigates did some digging to find out more about the hacker's criminally savvy plan. By requesting $499 from the couple, he's one dollar shy of the federal felony limit, which would trigger an investigation from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Sources with Denver PD tell us a search warrant has been conducted in this case.

We also know The Wolf Den is not alone in this attack. At least one other Colorado tattoo shop has been targeted on Instagram.

The Wolf Den has created a new Instagram account (@wolfdencustomtattoo) and is working to grow back their digital audience.