Send Ben: Jacksonville woman’s Facebook kitties meme page held for ransom by hacker, posts porn

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Action News Jax Ben Becker is investigating after a Jacksonville woman was the victim of a growing ‘Scamdemic’ trend when a Facebook hacker demanded ransom and posted porn on her popular cat meme page.

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“I am the creator of Twisted Kitties,” said Amy Cox who is having a feline Facebook fiasco. “Twisted Kitties is about my boys Jake and Junior. They are twins little grey guys. They run around getting into adventures -- basically a silly cat page.”

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But there’s nothing silly about Cox’s problem. She said her Facebook page, which has 55,000 feline loving followers, was taken over by a cat burglar.

Cox said she responded to an email about running advertisements on her page. She was offered $500 per ad and was sent a link that she thought was from Meta business suite.

But Cox said once she clicked on it, a hacker took ownership of her page, kicked her off, and then attempted to extort her for $5,000.

Read: Send Ben: $22,000 patio problem solved

The hacker wrote:

“You only have 2 options. Give me a payout then take your page.” A payout refers to money people make from their Facebook pages.

“Give me $5K and take your page choice is yours,” wrote the crook.

“There’s a number of things that are feeding into this ‘Scamdemic’ as we have been starting to call it,” said Eva Velasquez who is the president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center.

She said in 2022, the number of social media account takeover reports jumped 288 percent over the previous year. The spoofs are getting harder and harder for the average person to detect.

Read: INVESTIGATES: Fake police pulling people over in Jacksonville

“How are you supposed to protect yourself?” asked Becker. “If you didn’t initiate that contact, verify, verify, verify,” said Velasquez.

Cox tried to verify herself with Facebook to get her account back but failed. “I have emailed Facebook daily since mid-July and I’ve gotten no response. So, I reached out to you,” said Cox.

Becker got to work and made a connection with a Facebook executive and Cox finally received a message that Facebook restored her admin privileges.

Cox posted on Facebook, “We are Back!!! Thank you to Ben Becker Action News Jax.”

Read: INVESTIGATES: ‘I want to throw up;’ Parents complaining about fights, brawls at Fruit Cove Middle

“What made you reach out to me,” asked Becker. “We moved to Jacksonville two years ago, and I only get two channels - streaming and yours is one of them I watch frequently every morning.”

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Facebook does provide guidance and tools to help keep your account safe. Facebook paid a record $5 billion civil penalty in 2020 after the Federal Trade Commission found that it failed to protect user data.

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