In recent days, Consumer Press has learned there has been a wave of scam artists targeting Facebook brand pages.

Once they gain access to your page, they immediately take over your account and remove all existing administrators. In a matter of seconds, you can lose access to your page.

“We were contacted by someone through our Facebook messenger app. The guy asked us if we would be open to running ads on our Facebook page in exchange for several hundred dollars a week,” said Brian Lannoye, the associate editor of Men’s Variety, a digital publication for men with nearly 15,000 followers.

“In their message, they included a graphic that explained how the service worked. But once you tap on the embedded image, it’s pretty much over. That’s because you’ve given them access to your account,” Lannoye said.

Consumer Press has obtained a copy of the information they send to unsuspecting page owners with the goal of hacking. The first graphic is the bait they send as a convincer to con you into believing what they are offering is real. The second graphic lures page owners to click on the graphic with the promise of money.

“Minutes after tapping on the graphic, they hijacked our page and systematically deleted all of the administrators. Right before our eyes, all of us watched as our page disappeared from our screens,” shared Lannoye.

There have been other reports of hackers using the same methods to take over pages.

Men’s Topics, a Facebook community with nearly 20,00 members experienced something similar. “Out of the blue, we got a message on our Facebook messenger from a person wanting to advertise, said Frank Blackmon who helps administer the Facebook page called Men’s Topics.

“The guy said that Facebook had launched a new program that allowed brand pages to monetize their feed. When I asked him if he had anything official that he could send on email, he told me that the information was only available by following the link he sent,” Blackmon said.

“Something didn’t seem right because when I placed my cursor over the URL from the message, it went to an address that just seemed off.”

Indeed, Facebook currently does not offer a monetization method for page owners. While there have been beta-tests for charging membership fees to select groups on Facebook, the social media behemoth doesn’t have anything in places for pages. Anyone suggesting otherwise is probably trying to scam you.

How To Get Your Page Back

If your Facebook brand page has been taken over by hackers, wrestling control back can be difficult.

Consumer Press spoke to digital SEO and security specialist, Jack Sasso with Illinois SEO. “They (Facebook) don’t make it easy for victims. You have to really hunt for answers on what to and then take action quickly,” Sasso says. “I’ve had several clients watch helplessly as the scammers took control of their page and rebranded it – even changing the page’s URL. I’m talking about brands with hundreds of thousands of followers.”

If you suspect your brand page has been hacked, Sasso advises to immediately check the email account tied to your Facebook account.

“Almost always, Facebook security will send you an email to advise you’ve been removed as an administrator. There is a link in that email that goes directly to the Facebook security team. Quickly fill out the report and don’t delay,” Sasso urges.

When  they respond to your report, Facebook will ask for a copy of a valid government-issued photo ID, such as a current driver’s license or a passport; a notarized and signed statement that says you are the owner of the Facebook page that has been hacked; the full names of others who manage the page; the relationship of each administrator to the page; a specific explanation about what happened;  documentation (screenshots, conversations) that can be attached to the report; the Facebook account or email address that should be added as the new administrator of the page; and a declaration under penalty of perjury that is signed and dated stating the information you have provided is true and accurate (your statement must include this language).

The form specifically states the following: “Please understand that if we do not receive a notarized statement with all of the requested information by [deadline], we won’t follow up. If the statement is not notarized or doesn’t contain a declaration under penalty of perjury attesting to its truth and accuracy, we won’t be able to help.”

In the case of Men’s Variety, they were able to gain access back to their page within 48- hours.

“Thankfully, we got it back, but it wasn’t easy and required a lot of fast action,” said Lannoye. “I wouldn’t skip anything they tell you. Just give Facebook exactly what is requested,” he says.

Hoping to warn others, Lannoye stresses the following. “If anyone contacts you on your Facebook messenger account offering to pay you money to advertise on your page, immediately report it as spam. Do not click on any of the links or graphics. You could be instantly giving a hacker access to your brand page.”