If you follow me on Facebook, then you saw the drama going down last week when someone stole my Facebook page and started posting a string of odd videos. A lot of people asked how exactly that happened, so here’s the whole story. It’s easier to just say I was “hacked” but technically I was duped into giving the wrong people access. Hopefully it will help someone else avoid the same mistake.
*Scroll to the bottom for the latest update, Sept. 2021
I kept getting contacted by businesses asking to put ads on my Facebook page. Since I had been on a bit of a blogging break and figured a little extra income would be nice, I finally decided to take one of them up on the offer. I was used to doing sponsored ads for companies, so didn’t think this would be any different. Unfortunately, I was very very wrong.
The pitch for the Facebook scam goes like this:
“l am wondering if you are open to paid advertising? We are associated with more than 1000+ brands and companies worldwide so it can be anything, but you have all the control on what to post and what not to post on the page because you will be posting everything by yourself.
We will send you 10 ads every day and you can post any two of them. If you don’t like all of them you can ask for replacement. We offer you $200 daily per ad. Each ad has its own price. Minimum we grant is $200 and max it can go up to $300.”
That was copy and pasted from the one I just got yesterday. They are all similar – someone representing a fake ad agency asks about advertising on your Facebook page. They tell you they will send you the ads and you choose what will go on the page. They offer anywhere from $200 – $500 a day for this. Sounds like a great deal right?
This is where it all goes wrong:
I got sucked in and said yes. Then they “helped” me change my settings and add them as a business manager so they could create the ads, which I was then to approve and post.
I was sent a request for access from Facebook Sponsored Ads, so I thought that was a Facebook program or something, but it was really a fake business name. Once they were added as business manager, they changed their business name to Candy Keane, removed me as Admin on my own page and made me an “analyst,” which gave me access to pretty much nothing.
Weird videos started being posting hourly on my page. Random things like monkeys playing, how to build a trap, roller coaster rides…it was all over the place. I couldn’t stop it and I couldn’t even post a status update. I freaked out, had a total anxiety attack and was literally shaking so bad I could barely type as I frantically tried every avenue to report the problem.
How I got my Facebook page back:
If something like this happens to you, there is hope. A friend who saw my anguished posts about not being able to find where to get help called and told me there was a way to chat with an actual live person if you go through the Facebook Ads Help Center.
***Update 9/15/20 – The steps below no longer work exactly as I did them! They have removed the option I circled below and made it even harder to reach a live person. The first link will still take you where you need to start, but now you have to click the “support” button in the upper right corner and go from there.
It took me a lot of clicking to find this page, so here’s the direct link to get you started:
Facebook Business Help https://business.facebook.com/business/help?ref=mobile_logo
Scroll down to where it says Get Started. On the next page, click Policy and Account Security. The next page (shown below) will have the chat option when their office is open. I’m in Florida, so they open at 10AM. Clicking any other option will just give you an automated response.
Before they put you through to chat, there will be one final hurdle. A support form opens up and you’ll need your ads account number before it will submit your request. You’ll also want to choose “other” for most questions or it will try and give you the canned auto-responses again. Once you get that all filled in, you can officially request support and talk to (or technically type with) a live person!
They will request documents to verify you are the real owner. I had to submit a copy of my ID and a notarized statement saying I was the rightful owner. Your bank will often notarize for free, but this happened to me on a Sunday and I wasn’t willing to wait, so I found out the UPS store will notarize for $10.
You’ll have to go through the whole chat support system again, and give them the number from your previous conversation. They will then request to switch to e-mail and file the requests for you to restore your ownership. It only took them about 24 hours to get my access restored, and then I had to fix everything that other company did to my page.
The lasting effect
My page isn’t completely back to normal, but I’m working on it. The imposters blocked a lot of people and also a string of words like “stolen, hacked, help” and other things people had been posting in the comments. I figured this out when comments kept mysteriously showing up as hidden even after I was back in control.
I also tried to remove the Business Manager all together and ended up removing myself as Admin in the process, and had to go through the entire process AGAIN! I just wanted it back to the way it was, but the only option right now seems to be access as business admin through the business manager.
It was an incredibly stressful experience, since I’ve been working on that page for several years and it’s as much personal as it is business. I also lost a lot of likes/followers on the page from people who probably thought I was suddenly spamming their feed with weird video posts.
So whether you were hacked, or let them in like I did, there is hope. You have to go through these steps though. Just reporting the page as stolen or an imposter account did nothing. Sending messages to Facebook feedback also went nowhere. The secret is getting into the chat function and then I found them to actually be very helpful.
It’s a pain in the butt to take care of, but the good news is it can be done!
2021 Update: Some of these steps no longer appear to be an option. But they key to the fixing the problem is still to speak to a live person.
This is the most updated way: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/support and click “contact advertising support”