CMPD Animal Care & Control says Facebook won’t

The animal shelter said it tried for months to regain access to its hacked page and Facebook would not restore ownership to the agency.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Facebook page called “CMPD Animal Care and Control” has been posting a lot of pictures of animals lately, but it’s not the shelter behind the posts.

You feel violated,” Melissa Knicely, the agency’s communications director, said. “You feel like someone has broken into your home.”

Knicely said the shelter’s Facebook page got hacked in October, and the shelter tried to regain access to the page for months, unsuccessfully.

Eventually, it created a new page, called “Animal Care & Control.” However, the old, compromised page remains up and has recently become active again after months of dormancy.

“We have no control over any of it,” Knicely said. “We can’t go in there. We can’t shut it down. We can’t post anything. We can’t say this is fake. The only thing that we can do is we can report it.”

Some of the imposter posts are animal-related photos with captions, while others are created to look like photo posts but are actually hidden links that can trick a user trying to look at the full picture or photo gallery into tapping them.

Some posts are getting lots of likes, shares and comments from followers of the page who seemingly do not know the shelter is no longer running the page.

“We were basically told by Facebook that, even though we provided documentation, and our shelter license and all kinds of information that they had requested — we provided everything — and then the judgment was still that we could not have it back,” Knicely said.

CMPD Animal Care and Control posted on its new Facebook page Monday, suggesting people report and unfollow the old site and follow its new page for real updates from the shelter.

We’re just asking people to report it as a fraudulent page,” Knicely said. “We’re hoping that that will help grab Facebook’s attention enough, you know, along with the materials that we have sent in, to show that somebody has hacked the page and that it’s not us that are making those posts.”

WE NEED YOUR HELP! Our old facebook page (@animalscmpd) was hacked over 6 months ago and is now posting crazy things….

Posted by Animal Care & Control on Monday, May 8, 2023

Bill Chu, professor of Software and Information Systems at UNC Charlotte, said it’s concerning the imposter page is allowed to remain, when folks might have their guard down with what used to be a government-run page.

“That’s really a pretty bad situation,” Chu said. “People could fall victim to that. So, that’s all the more important that they need to take that page down.”

Chu thinks the animal-related posts are likely a social engineering scheme, meant to phish information by lulling users into thinking it’s really the shelter posting. He said the links could take people to sites that install malicious software or harvest information.

WCNC Charlotte reached out to Facebook’s parent company Meta for a statement or explanation for the old site remaining up. The social media company has not responded.

Experts say the best way to guard your account from hackers is to use two-factor authentication. If someone tries to access your account from an unfamiliar device with a stolen password, Facebook will implement a second step to log in, having the user verify their identity via text message or app.

Contact Vanessa Ruffes at vruffes@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


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