Jacksonville woman’s Facebook accounts hijacked | #datingscams | #lovescams | #facebookscams

Brenda Protz of Jacksonville operates several Facebook pages — some personal, some professional.

Now, six of them have been hacked and are being used to scam money from several of Protz’s Facebook friends.

The accounts Weddings by Brenda Protz, VDay Springfield Illinois, Brenda Protz Alumni Network, MK by Brenda Protz, Brenda Baptist Protz and Find Joy in the Journey. Love, Jenna all were hacked. 

“This has been going on for more than three week,” Protz said. “It has caused a lot of issues. And I’m not getting any help from Facebook. It’s really frustrating. I just don’t want anyone else to get scammed.”

In a post shared by Lincoln Land Community College-Jacksonville, the school is asking anyone who is a friend of the LLCC instructor to report and block the pages. 

“If you have our LLCC instructor Brenda Baptist Protz as a Facebook friend her account has been hacked and her account has been taken over by someone else,” the school’s post reads. “Do not interact with the imposter. They have already taken money from her friends and misled them into other scams.”

One of Protz’s former students lost about $1,400 to the scam, she said, and someone showed up at Protz’s home, looking to pick up a couch.

“It’s bad,” Protz said. “In the alumni page, they even posted my address. I had someone come to my house to pick up a couch — a couch I don’t have. I’m just thankful it wasn’t a stranger who would have thought I was scamming them and gotten angry with me. It could have been really dangerous.”

In a post to her new Facebook page, Protz said she is trying to work with Facebook to fix the problem but hasn’t had any luck. 

The scammers “are now trying to call people via my personal messenger. Do not answer,” Protz said in her post. “Do not buy anything from my old account. I’m not selling anything. And if you know me, you know I’m not interacting with you about the stock market! Also, if you share you might get some automated bot messages trying to get you or I to contact a ‘professional.’ Block them. It’s all a scam.”

Anyone who has interacted with Protz’s pages recently should report the page and consider changing their passwords to be safe, she said. 

The hijacking is far from an isolated incident.

Jacksonville Police detective Kyle Chumley said these types of problems are increasing as these types of scams become more prevalent. 

“When we move our whole lives online, it exposes us to these types of things,” he said.

Anytime someone asks for money online, it is best to take several steps to ensure you are speaking with the correct person, Chumley said.

“Anytime anyone asks for money online, the smart thing to do is to vet it,” he said. “I recommend you talk about any money issues in person, or call them if you know them in person.”

Try to avoid situations that include scenarios where something seems too good to be true or those that ask you to send money because someone is in jail or stranded without verifying those claims, Chumley said.

“It is virtually impossible to track these people,” he said. “We have some ways to narrow it down, but it is easy to do things anonymously, so it can be hard to verify who is behind some of these scams.”

The biggest protection for one’s online life is to have a variety of passwords that are different across platforms and different from your email password, Chumley said. 

“We are creatures of habit and we often have the same password across our profiles or accounts,” Chumley said. “If they have one, they can change the other.”

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