MINNEAPOLIS - A Minneapolis woman is warning others about an alarming discovery she made after her Facebook account was hacked.
"I first noticed that my account was hacked about a month ago," said Jessica Jacobsen, recalling the day she went on Facebook to find she'd been locked out of her account. "They changed my name to all Arabic. They started deleting most of my memories."
When she regained access to her account, Jacobsen noticed she was now a member of a Facebook group by the name of “هكر الدوله المصريه.” The name in Arabic translates to "Egyptian Government Hacker."
"I became alarmed when I saw posts talking about selling and buying Facebook accounts, buying and selling U.S. passports, specifically about American accounts, and selling people's whole identities," said Jacobsen.
The group had more than 17,000 members, some of whom were posting photos of what appeared to be ID cards belonging to other people for sale to the highest bidder.
“This is just a list of email addresses to hack into accounts,” said Jacobsen, pointing to one group member’s post which listed about two dozen Hotmail accounts
“Account for sale,” Jacobsen read another one of Facebook’s rough translations from Arabic to English.
“They’re selling someone’s identification actually on this one,” said Jacobsen, pointing to another photo of an ID card.
Several more posts refer to the sale and acquisition of passports.
“So yesterday, I finally called the FBI, and they took down a report,” said Jacobsen. “They had me call the Federal Trade Commission, Homeland Security, and the Department of State for passports.”
Cyber security expert Jake DeWoskin says the activity on the page isn’t surprising.
“You’ve probably heard of the dark web,” said DeWaskin. “You could go online and for 200 euros rent a hacker that’ll destroy somebody’s life.”
Jacobsen says she reported the group to Facebook more than 20 times over the course of three weeks, trying to get the group deleted, but Facebook did not delete the group.
Instead, Jacobsen says Facebook responded with a statement recommending she leave the group. Jacobsen’s screenshot of Facebook’s response said in part: “Thank you for your report – you did the right thing by letting us know about this. We looked over the group you reported, and though it doesn’t go against one of our specific Community Standards, we understand that the group or something shared in it may still be offensive to you.”
KARE 11 reached out to Facebook about the group after interviewing Jacobsen. Facebook responded with a statement in a matter of hours.
“I looked into the group that you flagged and can confirm that it does violate our Community Standards,” said Facebook’s Ruchika Budhraja via email. “Thank you for bringing it to our attention. I am still in the process of investigating whether there were earlier reports filed against the group. For now, however, I can confirm that the group has been removed from Facebook.“
A check of the group’s Facebook URL confirms it has been deleted.
When KARE 11 reached out to the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission about the groups, they responded saying they don’t comment on investigations or the existence of investigations that are still open.
Jacobsen says she hopes others learn from her experience, and take steps to prevent getting hacked on Facebook. For example, under settings, use a current email address for your Facebook account, set up two-factor authentication for an extra layer of security, and list three to five trusted friends as contacts in case you get locked out of your account.