PETERSBURG, Va. -- Police in Petersburg are warning about a scam targeting dog lovers and their cash after a Facebook page made years ago by an animal advocate was hacked.
Jill Navary created the Help the Petersburg Animals Facebook page to benefit the city’s animal shelter said posts have appeared on the hacked page with expensive dogs up for adoption.
The scam is that dogs do not exist and the money is not going to the animal shelter.
“I want people to know that it’s a scam,” Navary, who said that multiple Facebook pages she created have been hacked.
Navary said she started the Help the Petersburg Animals in 2013 as an act of kindness.
A few years ago, the page was basically inactive. Then about a month ago, administrator changes were made to two of Navary’s accounts.
“Since then they have taken over Help the Petersburg Animals, they have taken over Bully Rescue Advocacy Group,” Navary said. “They have been posting pure-bred puppies for sale and asking people to send $250.”
Followers of the page said they quickly realized the site had changed.
“Then all of a sudden, they started posting about these, you know, ridiculously cute and sweet, pure-bred puppies that were available,” Frannie Rawlings said.
Navary said the scam is paying off for the hackers — and that 230 people have been duped.
“I’ve gotten emails from people that have sent the money and they want to know where their puppy is,” she said.
Navary said she has put in multiple requests to Facebook to bring down the two pages, but she said she has heard nothing back.
“They have not responded to me,” she said. “They deactivated my personal Facebook page.”
But Navary is not the only one requesting the page be taken down.
Rawlings estimated that she had reported the page 25-50 times but has heard nothing back.
Tina Wetsch also reported the page.
“Facebook sends this, this ridiculous little stock message that says, 'Oh, it didn’t violate our community standards, so we’re good,'” Wetsch said.
Petersburg Police have officially issued a warning to the public saying the page is a scam.
Navary is left starting over by creating a new Facebook page while the others with thousands of followers remain active.
In fact, Navary’s primary Facebook page, The Bully Rescue Group, had more than 10,000 followers. Her new page that she made has around 200 followers at last check.
“I’d like to see the pages shut down,” Navary said. “I’d like to see Facebook get on the job and protect people.”
The City of Petersburg has also been the target of hackers after administrators were locked of three city Facebook pages over the past couple of months.
As a result, the city also had to start over and create new pages while those original pages remain active.
This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email email@example.com to send a tip.