What to know after hackers take over man's Facebook page, scam his friends

Nina Pineda Image
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Hackers take over man's Facebook page, scamming his friends
Nina Pineda has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- 7 On Your Side is looking into a nasty new Facebook hack that steals your account to sell fake items and then pockets the cash.

The scammers are learning exactly how to impersonate you and trick your friends but at least one victim got 7 On Your Side to stop the scam in its tracks.

"My Facebook was hacked," said scam victim Pete Gagliardo.

As a retired firefighter, Gagliardo is used to putting out fires, but he was helpless to hose down a flaming hot scam stealing from his friends.

His pals are being robbed. They believe they're paying him for his his late father's items.

Friends from Florida to Putnam Lake thought they bought floor seats to Morgan Whalen at Met Life Stadium.

"Tractors, four-wheelers, and one even booked two airline tickets," Gagliardo said.

"I just sent in $200, which was for one of the four tickets," said Barbara Evans, a friend.

But buddies like Evans were all duped by carefully curated direct messages culled from Gagliardo's online posts.

"We go to the Daytona 500 and hang out in the yellow section. He put the tickets in the Daytona Speedway yellow sections," he said.

It all started with a surprise updated profile picture.

"I click on it and it opened a Facebook account. It says Peter Gagliardo," he said. "But I couldn't get it, I had no access to it whatsoever."

He said he wasn't able to change the password, send a message or post.

Locked out, he reported the hostile takeover on Christmas. He tried to contact Facebook and was told they would get back to him within 180 days.

With three billion users on the planet. It is a six-month wait time for help with alleged hackers.

One is even pretending to be "The Sopranos" star Vincent Curatolo.

The New Jersey crooner had strangers show up at his house looking for signed memorabilia, acting lessons, and shoutouts they paid an imposter for on Facebook.

"I have never been on Facebook," Curatolo said. "I don't have a Facebook page."

The man who played a mobster had to call the FBI.

Signs of a hack are notices about email, password or birthday changes, friend requests and messages from strangers you didn't write, and posts you didn't make.

Panicked while his friends purchased phony items, Gagliardo reached out to 7 On Your Side and we contacted Facebook's parent company, Meta, asking them to stop the scam in its tracks.

"I reset everything because of you and 7 On Your Side," Gagliardo said.

Within hours, he got a link to reset and retook over his own page.

"There was no one there to help but you," he said. "Cheers! Cheers to you and 7 On Your Side. You're the best!"

So what can you do to help keep yourself safe?

Watch for a payment recipient switcheroo, report hacks ASAP, and request that friends and family post warnings about what's happened.

The victims all had one thing in common, they were asked to send money to people other than Gagliardo. That's a big red flag.

7 On Your Side is still working on refunds for victims who were tricked in this scam.


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