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Fake Website and Social Media Account Aim to Scam Local Photography Businesses | Business

Watsontown, Pennsylvania – The Watsontown Police Department received a call about a website and Facebook account impersonating a local business, and reached out to Facebook to issue a warning.

The webpage and social media account were created without the consent of business owner Heidi Erika Photography and targeted her current clientele, according to police.

“I created a brand new updated website for my business and am giving away a free mini-session,” said business owner Heidi Myers.

The fake website includes a hyphen in the company name; a slight – and for the most part – imperceptible change to the website URL.






The fake website uses broken English and uses a slightly modified URL.




“That person [also] created a fake misspelled FB account (no space between words and photograph spelled PHOTOGRAPHY). They started making comments on my Facebook post telling everyone they had won a prize.”

Worse still, she said her friends and followers started receiving personal messages asking them to click on a link and enter a credit card.

An investigation is currently underway, according to Watsontown Police.

“These are tough cases,” Police Chief Rod Witherite said. “In cases like these involving social media, sometimes it is possible to get information for a search warrant. But when you’re dealing with people online, it can come from anywhere.”

If an investigation crosses state lines, local law enforcement notifies the Federal Bureau of Investigation. And if officers are led to believe the perpetrators are international, they can contact Interpol.

“We can investigate further,” Witherite said, “but it depends on the nature of the crime. They are more likely to be investigated further if there are serious death threats. , or if the crime involves sums greater than so much money,” he said.

Witherite said the first thing to do if you’ve been hacked is to contact all of your friends and followers to alert them to the hack. “The biggest concern is blocking the responsible person on Facebook,” he said.

But tracking all of a company’s followers can be a challenge. “I have over 3,000 followers on my Heidi Erika Photography Facebook page, so it’s not like I can just dump it and start over,” Myers said.

Myers also reported the activity to the FBI and Facebook, but received little help from Facebook’s parent company, Meta.







HeidiErika_FBresponse_2022.jpg

Meta’s response to complaints from a user impersonating Heidi Erika Photography.




“I feel very violated,” she said. “They even used my son’s photo, and you’re not doing that.”

It’s always a good idea to take precautions on the internet, Witherite said.

“Keep your passwords as private as possible,” he said. “Change them regularly and protect your information.”

Myers said she changes her passwords more frequently now, but in the event of a duplicate page, she feels there is little else she can do.

“Basically, there’s no hope of solving it,” she said. “I just have to pray that my customers and friends are smart enough not to click on anything and know that it’s not me and I would never ask anyone for their credit card.”

Witherite, which said it has also been the target of scam social media accounts, stressed that people should be aware of similar circumstances to prevent any kind of potential scam activity.

“People create these fake accounts every day,” he said.

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