‘My son’s not dead:’ Arizona mom calls out hackers who overtook Facebook account

After On Your Side got involved, Meta secured the compromised account.
She told On Your Side that she had trouble reaching out to Facebook, and its parent company Meta.
She told On Your Side that she had trouble reaching out to Facebook, and its parent company Meta.(Arizona's Family)
Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 11:27 AM MST
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TONOPAH (3TV/CBS 5) - When Teresa Robbins’ Facebook account got hacked, someone took over the page and told her friends her son had passed away. And that’s just the beginning of the scam.

“It’s showing that my son had died of cancer, and they’re trying to sell this play station,” she said. “My son’s not dead. He’s healthy and he’s living well. It’s not my son.” But Robbins was locked out of the account, and couldn’t delete the post. It was even shared to other groups in her network. “I googled for Facebook help, and then I got a hold of this number. I called it, thinking it was Facebook,” she said. “He was a good one.” The person on the other end of the line knew some of Robbins’ personal information. “He said, ‘Ma’am, you have been hacked and we have to reverse these charges.’”

Robbins followed the man’s instructions and got Cash App and Zelle. Her bank got suspicious. “All of a sudden, my bank is texting me ‘are you authorizing these charges?’” she recalled. “He’s like, ‘just ignore it for right now.’” The back and forth went on for at least an hour. The bank shut everything down after a $146 transaction. Slowly, Robbins began to realize what was happening. “I just lost it. It’s just been devastating. You’ve been violated,” she said through tears. “I just don’t know where to go with this.”

Louie Bischoff, a social media expert who has worked with Meta, says fraudulent account takeovers are common. “Anecdotally, I hear about them all the time,” she said. Facebook users can report the hack and try to regain control of the account, but according to Bischoff, it’s often easier to start over with a new account. “If you are spending money as an advertiser, you have more access to help. The not good news is if you’re not spending money, it’s a free platform. There are more than three billion users worldwide, and there’s really no help on it because there’s no customer service set up.”

That’s why it’s so critical to prevent a hack in the first place. Meta recommends two-factor authentication. “Facebook will know or Instagram will know I’m at a different place, so it will be like, ‘Hey, you’re not at this usual place. We want to make sure it’s you.’ And you’ll get a security code.” A spokesperson for Meta told On Your Side the company has teams and technology to detect and block malicious activity, but acknowledges no system is perfect. If you do come across something suspicious on the social media site, you should report it by clicking the three dots in the upper right corner of the post or through Facebook’s Help Center.

Robbins tried repeatedly to shut down her hacked account. “I can’t get Facebook to deactivate my account. I can’t get anything. They said there’s no danger to the community,” she said. After On Your Side reached out to Meta, the company secured Robbins’ compromised account, and now it’s back in her control. “As I’ve looked back, I should have known right away something wasn’t right when he couldn’t ever answer me clearly.” But it all seemed so real. These scams always do.