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The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page got hacked

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office relied on its Facebook page to get information out quickly and unfiltered.

They have 20,000 followers who are now being directed to a site that promotes mixed martial arts fighting.  

The office’s website and Facebook page are linked. But instead of getting the latest community alerts, hackers have taken over the page and to promote street boxing.

Deputy Scott Ducker is one of the page administrators for the office. 

“Somehow they got into my Facebook account. Facebook has really not given us an answer on what happened,” Ducker said. 

Two days ago, another deputy noticed someone was livestreaming a video game on the office’s Facebook page.  

“I log in or I try to log in and I get on the page, and there is somebody livestreaming a video game,” Ducker said. “I instantly discover I have no control over my page. I can view it; that’s about it.”

The deputy believes the hackers accessed his Facebook login credentials through an email phishing scheme. He says his passwords are protected by two-party verification and changed on a regular basis. He has been in contact with Facebook by phone and through email, but so far, he says they have not been very helpful. 

“Actually got an email that said we have restored your admin rights to your page, you can get on there now and correct everything. That never happened, by the way. I never got any restoration on there. Since then, it has been emails about how we are monitoring the page for suspicious activity; we will let you know,” Ducker said. 

He says the administrator rights have still not been restored.

Scott Shackelford, a cybersecurity expert with the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, has written extensively about Facebook’s corporate social responsibilities. “I would argue that they need to take much more of an interest in ensuring that their customers’ information is being protected. As you see here, that is not always being done.”

Shackelford says this type of hacking is illegal and is protected under federal and state laws, but catching the responsible party is a challenge at best. 

“There is unfortunately a global community of cybercriminals that are using these platforms for a variety of different purposes, and we do have international extradition treaties to help find and prosecute these people. It is a classic game of global Whac-A-Mole,” Shackelford said, referring to a well-known arcade game using a mallet to hit targets that pop up at random. 

The office is hoping that Facebook will restore the administrators’ rights back to the office; otherwise, the sheriff will have to start over with another page.