Hackers target Sunderland fitness business owner's Facebook in £5,000 fraud

A Sunderland business owner who lost almost £5,000 when his personal Facebook account was hacked wants to warn others about online safety.

Wednesday, 16th October 2019, 4:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th October 2019, 5:30 pm
Lewis Hatcher, managing director of Direct Fitness, hopes to warn others.

Lewis Hatcher, who owns Direct Fitness, wants to warn others about the importance of online security after his Facebook account was targeted and a hacker set up £5,000 sponsorship to a Chinese clothing firm.

The business owner, who set up his own company in 2016, says he checks his online accounts every week but last month discovered almost £5,000 in sponsorship posts on Facebook had been set up.

It soon became apparent that a hacker had gained access to the 27-year-old’s personal account which then linked through to the Direct Fitness Facebook page.

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The hacker removed the admin in charge of the business’s social media from the page and used Mr Hatcher’s profile to add the hacker’s account as a friend – before making it an admin on the page.

From there the hacker was able to set up a string of advertisement and sponsorship posts for a total of almost £5,000 over a number of days.

Mr Hatcher said: “I’m from Sunderland and I set up my business starting from my mum’s back room.

“I’ve built it up and it’s come such a long way, but to go from that to someone taking £5,000 out of you account – it’s a lot.

“It really rocks your confidence with social media when I want to use it as an advertising platform.

“It’s been a stressful time, the only thing I can praise is Barclays, my bank, and Facebook who really helped.

“I’ve got the funds back but I want to warn others to be vigilant.”

Facebook say teams work tirelessly to remove hacking and adapt to new techniques fraudsters are using.

A Facebook company spokesperson said: “There is no place for hacking or fraud on Facebook, and we work tirelessly to remove it, and to adapt to the techniques fraudsters use.

“We worked with Mr Hatcher to help resolve this difficult situation and are pleased he has had a positive outcome. We offer a range of tools to help people keep their accounts secure, and we urge people to report concerns to us if they think their account has been compromised.”

A Barclays spokesperson added: “Keeping customers secure is our top priority and when we are alerted to any fraudulent activity on a customer’s account we will investigate as a matter of urgency.

“We are committed to protecting our customers and have invested significantly in anti-scam initiatives.”