Animal programs

Hackers have taken over an animal shelter’s Facebook page. 5 On Your Side helped regain control. ::

— A local nonprofit’s Facebook page was hacked, putting the animal rescue program at risk. But, 5 On Your Side was able to reach out to Facebook, which said it would help animal rescue regain control of its page.

Friends of Rocky Mount Animal Rescue said that when hackers took over their Facebook page, the money people were paying for adoption fees started going to the hackers – not the rescue.

Laura Gearhart was losing her sight. After 11 surgeries and therapies, her vision was saved. Gearheart thinks the reason was so she could help animals.

“I can’t move animals if I’m blind,” she said.

Gearhart started Friends of Rocky Mount Animals with his son in 2002. Now the Facebook page is a big part of the rescue operation. They have 8,100 followers and use the page to hold fundraisers who run their programs.

But in May, the page was hacked.

“[I] I went to flip the laundry, came back and they already had my page,” Gearhart said. “[They] hacked so fast.”

Hackers changed phone number, email address and disabled comments on posts.

Gearhart said since the hack she had heard of several people who had paid deposits but never had dogs.

“They hurt animals,” Gearheart said.

“That’s wrong. We can’t let these people win, and we’re not going to let them win.”

Gearhart said she reported the hack to Facebook, but they were taking no action. So 5 On Your Side got to work.

A Facebook spokesperson said they couldn’t say exactly what happened in the case, but after a month of back and forth explaining the issue, providing documents and waiting for an investigation unfolds – there was finally a result and Gearheart was able to regain control of the page.

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“You don’t understand how much this means to me,” Gearheart said.

Gearheart is still waiting for Facebook to cede control of the hacked account.

For others facing a hacked account, click here to start recovering it. Another way to make an account harder to hack is to enable Facebook’s two-factor authentication and login alerts.