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Russian hackers pose threat to Facebook users’ security

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Updated: 11/06/2012 3:36 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- Facebook is supposed to be a place for friends but today many parents will find some news about the social network very alarming. News 3's Reed Cowan dug deeper into this threat to Facebook's security.

A group of Las Vegas parents, led by one mother, say something that was anything but friendly happened to their children on the social network.

This Facebook scare hit hundreds of Las Vegas families and it's believed it all started with one Summerlin teen's Facebook account.

Hackers got into her account then her Gmail account, then her iTunes account and from there it spread like wildfire to her friends and her relatives.

The teen's pictures were taken with worries they would be used for Russian porn and it's been a battle with every keystroke.

Las Vegas Realtor Marlo O'Donnell's quest to find out who infiltrated her daughter's Facebook account led her to the worst of news after friends called what they believed to be a Facebook support page they found on the Internet, according to the person on the other end of the phone.

“A Russian gang has taken over several young teen Facebook accounts,” the voice on the phone said.

They're able to take their pictures, put them on porn sites, and worse they said how much worse I'm not sure.

It was for that reason that O’Donnell’s daughter would not speak on camera and only via phone. She's too scared.

“That's my biggest fear, cut out put on to nude girls body that's not who I am,” the teen said.

O’Donnell’s daughter is a model who has worked in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Her photos are everywhere but no more vulnerable than on her own private Facebook page.

She tried to login to her Facebook page one morning only to find that she couldn't get back in and that was her first clue.

Connected to the teen's Facebook were her Gmail account, iTunes account and her mother's bank account. All were overtaken for use by the phantom hackers.

“As soon as I would try to get it back, change the password again and again and again,”

Not only were her accounts connected to her Facebook, so were her friends and family. Soon, the violation spread to friends and families.

“It's hitting several of my friend’s kids because we have been talking on Facebook. I get 10 responses another person,.that's how we are finding out it is happening.

The parents were offered a phone number to call, claiming to be Facebook and referencing news reports about a Russian hacker gang that could be viewed on YouTube.

These victims have been taken for a ride and sometimes they don't even know it.
It's difficult to get these guys in a country as far away as Russia.

News 3 spoke to local FBI cyber experts who said, quote, "This happens all the time… photos on Facebook can be easily stolen and posted on porn."

One woman--who works in the adult film industry says--they're right.

“It's very easy to copy and paste and build web yeah,” she said. “When you put your photos these ghosts can and will come in and will pirate your pictures.”

There's a huge twist to this story. Yes, your Facebook photos can be stolen for porn.

Yes, cyber criminals can infiltrate your friends' sites too.

However, News 3’s Reed Cowan has been able to uncover that this is a scam, on top of a scam--and the bottom line--it's an effort to get into your wallet.

As mentioned, Las Vegas Realtor Marlo O'Donnel, her daughter's Facebook, Gmail, and iTunes accounts have been hacked.

Someone claiming to be a Facebook representative told her she needed to pay money to fix the problem because of a supposed Russian group of Facebook hackers using her daughter's photos for porn, but that's only half of the story.

This is a scam on top of a scam. Your Facebook photos can be cut and pasted on to porn, but in O'Donnel's case--there's no proof that actually happened. The fear was placed in her mind by a group of suspected hackers wanting her money and access to her computer's hard drive.

"When you're a mom, you'll do just about anything to protect your child and when you're afraid--you're vulnerable to believe the worst," O'Donnel said.

Marlo and a group parents in Las Vegas were told lies when all of their teenager's Facebook and Gmail accounts were hacked. Passwords were overtaken and photos were stolen causing sleepless nights for all of them.

That's when one of the parents entered the Google search and typed in the Facebook online support phone number.

The Facebook online support phone number, the number the parents called warning of a Russian Facebook porn, was a scam.

News 3 called the same number that was lifted off a page that looks like it's from Facebook.

News 3 told the man on the other end of the line about a hacked Facebook account.

Sure enough he speaks of Russian hackers and porn sites and the ability for money to make it stop.

The Russian hackers never go in to the daughter's account for use in porn websites.

News 3 asked where in the world his business operated.

“We are based in I would say...Texas...New England Avenue. Why are you asking so many questions? Fix that…can fix that for you,” the man said.

News 3 was unable to find "New England Avenue" in Texas as the man represented. News 3 spoke with real Facebook reps who say they “don't give out a phone number and we certainly don't ask for money to pay for a service.”

A cautionary tale from a mother who now sees someone was trying to cash in on her fears.

Facebook doesn't offer a phone number where you can call them. Never grant anyone access to your computer's hard drive and if you aren't comfortable with your children's photos being vulnerable for theft, don't put them on the internet.



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