Our Facebook business page was hacked

Story of a scam, and it’s not over yet…

In early April our Facebook page vanished. Gone. All that work of posting those lovely reviews and pictures from customers – just gone. For a tiny business or a giant one, if you use Facebook for business this is a catastrophe. Our website visits fell through the floor.

Hello if this is our first visit to Painted by You

If you’ve been here before you may know there are two of us running our lovely little business, I’m Lorna and my business partner is Martin. Recently he’d taken a back seat so that he could spend more time in his camper van and his family.  But this was urgent – while I put my head in the sand and quietly panicked about the serious drop in income, Martin put on his cyber-detective boots and started digging.

Hackers in our Facebook ad account

Hackers had got into our Facebook Business advertising account and replaced me with names similar to mine. Then they had set the page to be only seen in the USA – that’s why we couldn’t view it. They then suspended Martin from the advertising part of our account too. Once they had control of our account they created adverts that would be shown in the USA. The ads were set to cost £1000 a day and took people to a website selling bras. We assume that the scam was to harvest payment details from vulnerable older women – we assume they were not actually selling bras! Notice our logo on the adverts – not exactly painting kits adverts.

The amazing luck for us was that we almost never use paid advertising on Facebook and our payment card had expired. The scammers ‘only’ ran up £450 in debt before Facebook stopped running their advertising.

Martin started looking further, clicking, clicking he gradually unpicked the scam, finding little traces tucked away in the administrative pages and amazingly discovered links to the identities of the scammers that they had forgotten to cover. The Facebook profile of the main hacker actually claims that he (and several of his friends) actually work for Facebook!

If you have ever tried to contact Facebook for technical support you will have discovered it’s pretty thin on the ground. Martin repeatedly sent them updates about what he was unearthing – evidence of who the hackers were and exactly when they had added themselves into the admin roles. Facebook had been running adverts that defrauded older women in the USA, but still haven’t admitted this, and our account is still £450 in arrears. They tell us they are ‘still investigating’ but it’s been Martin who has done the work and brought the page back to life. So come on Facebook – get on it!

There were about six weeks where our Facebook page was not functioning in the UK, this meant that any links that Google found to the facebook page were now broken. If you know anything about how Google decides its search results you will know this is very bad news. Our position on Google search has tumbled from pretty high to very low. One thing that can help with this is more reviews from people who have bought kits in the past.

I’d like to say thanks to Martin for basically saving Painted by You from the edge of collapse while I just stared into the headlights, and to warn all readers to regularly update passwords – just like many others, we never thought this would happen to us. Thanks for reading and I will post an update if and when Facebook finally deal with it.