Small martial arts studio in NJ target of $35k social media ad scam

CALDWELL, N.J. (WABC) -- No Limit Martial Arts studio has taught self-defense in Caldwell, New Jersey for more than two decades.

But earlier this year, nothing could protect No Limit's owner, a fourth-degree blackbelt, from the one-two combo takedown of a cyber-crook.

"Whoever hacked her account started using our funds and our ad account," owner Johnny Guerrero said.

Hackers broke into the studio's Facebook advertising account that normally advertises classes. Each click costs the dojo dough.

"It was like, oh my God, first it went up to $17,000 and we were like 'go to the bank, let's stop it right now, let's block our bank account," Guerrero's wife, Claudia, said.

"But it kept happening after I went to the bank. I went to the bank four times. Eventually, I just wound up closing that account," Johnny said.

And the hits kept coming.

"They started selling t-shirts attached to our business Facebook page, so it looks like we're selling the t-shirt, we're paying for the ads, but they're collecting all the money they make," Claudia Guerrero said. "$35,000. They emptied us out."

All of this after struggling just to stay open after COVID-19.

"No one was helping us at Facebook. We reported it, no one got back to us," Claudia said.

It's a good thing then that No Limit's motto is perseverance; never give up.

"Someone told us to reach out to 7 On Your Side," Johnny said.

We contacted Facebook and a representative told us it was in the process of refunding No Limit, but couldn't because their bank account was closed.

"As soon as we contacted you, all of a sudden, emails started coming through. It was like a miracle," Johnny said.

They got a full refund, nearly $36,000.

"We're so happy, you guys probably saved our business," Johnny said.

The big takeaway here, don't link your bank accounts to your social media accounts for automatic withdrawals.

Instead, use a credit card so you can set limits and have some recourse in case there's fraud.

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