After an Arlington woman's Facebook account was hacked she called what she thought was a Facebook customer service number, and that landed her in even more trouble.
Suzanne Dougherty uses Facebook to connect with friends and family both near and far.
"My oldest granddaughter is in Africa, a Peace Corps worker," she said.
Her granddaughter doesn’t get phone service, but occasionally, she finds areas where she can get online and chat with her grandmother on Facebook.
But last month, those conversations stopped.
"When I entered my password it wouldn’t accept it," Dougherty said.
She tried to have a new Facebook password sent to her email address and her cell phone, but the password never came. And later that day, she started hearing from concerned friends and relatives.
"I'm getting phone calls saying 'are you in Manila. Do you need $500?'" she explained.
That’s when Dougherty realized her account had been hacked. She Google’d "Facebook customer service" and came across an 844 number.
"I specifically asked 'are you with Facebook? And they said yes," she said.
Dougherty said the person on the phone asked if she could get on her laptop so he could log into her account remotely. She did so, and the man confirmed that she had been hacked.
"He said I show that 20 people have reported you for posting pornography," she said. "I felt violated because that’s something I would never do and so that was very frightening to me."
She said the man told her he saw 13 people from Spain that were logged into her account.
"He said these people now have access to your bank account, your credit card, your Amazon account," said Dougherty.
She asked the man on the phone if he could delete her account completely, and was told he'd have to charge her about $250 to do so.
And that’s when she knew.
"This was not Facebook and that I had been scammed. I’ve given access to my laptop to a scammer," she said.
Cyber security expert Keith Barthold with DKB Innovative calls this "social hacking."
"Social hacking is some of the easiest hacking because it’s getting someone on the phone and tricking them into thinking that you’re someone else and then socially engineering and drawing that information out," he explained.
Barthold said it’s likely the hackers installed something malicious on her laptop to log her keystrokes and tap into other accounts.
Dougherty has stopped using the laptop and plans to take it in to a computer shop to get it cleaned. But even using her phone, she couldn’t get control of her Facebook account, so she called the NBC 5 Responds team for help.
Facebook says it does not have a customer service number and encourages users to search facebook.com/help.
Facebook told us “while these groups are persistent and work continuously to spread false information, we have taken down a large number of the sites offering fake support numbers and we will continue to do so."
With facebook’s help, Dougherty was finally able to regain control over her account.
She's been through a lot! She has a message for the person or people responsible or her stress.
"They prey on people that are most vulnerable," she said. "Shame on you!"
When we called that 844 number it appeared to be disconnected.
If you’re ever having problems with your Facebook page, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:
• Remember, there is no Facebook help number.
• Visit facebook.com/help instead
• You can also visit facebook.com/hacked
• Make sure you’re using different passwords across multiple social media accounts.