The Photography is Not a Crime Facebook page was taken over by hackers Saturday morning and there’s a good chance we’ll never get it back, resulting in the loss of more than 263,000 followers.
The page was hacked while I was on the phone with a man who goes by Cristiano Patric on Facebook, who had sent us a message through the page last month, saying he can set up an ad network on our page that would generate between $70 to $200 a day.
I am generally very skeptical of these messages but PINAC crew member Felipe Hemming said he had been talking to him for a week and insisted it was a great deal.
I sent him a friend request on Friday and he accepted on Saturday morning, messaging me to set up an account on business.facebook.com.
He called me from (415) 655-1767 and was talking me through the process of setting up the account when at one point, he told me to click “remove,” which appeared only to remove the link to the Facebook page from the top of the column that was on the Facebook business page. The page is set up to add several Facebook pages in a graph-like box.
I assumed I had to click remove because we had missed a step and had to backtrack before I could re-add the link in the column again.
But by clicking remove, I ended up removing myself as administrator from the Photography is Not a Crime Facebook page, leaving no administrators to let me back in.
He made it seem as if it were my fault by clicking on the wrong “remove” but I did not think it was possible to remove myself as admin of one Facebook page from a completely different page. I figured you would have to go through “settings” on that same page, then click on “page roles” before accomplishing such a task.
Here is a screenshot of the page I was trying to set up an account on. It still lists me as an administrator. I have no idea how I was able to remove myself as administrator from the Photography is Not a Crime Facebook page.
I suspected this may have been a setup, but I could not figure out how they did it. It wasn’t until he messaged me, saying the page will be returned to me if I pay his friend between $2,000 to $3,000 that I was able to confirm I had been hacked.
I wasn’t going to pay it, but I asked for his friend’s Western Union information to get an idea where he is located, but he never gave it to me, telling me to reach out to his friend who goes by Dan Peterson on Facebook, which I never did.
By Saturday afternoon, all of the PINAC crew members I had as editors of the Facebook page were removed and the page began publishing clickbait articles. They have posted a few of these articles, but they end up disappearing, so maybe people are reporting them to Facebook, which doesn’t waste any time removing content or suspending people.
However, Facebook makes it almost impossible to report incidents like this. I did send them several messages through their “help center,” but have not heard back. I even messaged Mark Zucherberg through Facebook, knowing that would go ignored as well but figured I had nothing to lose.
Facebook has a couple of options to report hacked pages, but one of them is only to report hacked personal pages, and the one they have to report hacked business page does not allow me to proceed with a report because it says it has no record of me ever administrating a hacked page.
In other words, it does not allow me to type in the domain of the hacked account because it says I have no “eligible admined pages.” Really. WTF.
I then discovered that the new owner of the page was somebody going by “sponsored ads” where only moments earlier, I was listed as the sole administrator.
The reason I was the sole administrator of the Facebook page is because my former friend and associate, Grant Stern, hijacked the page two months ago because he did not get his way as I explain in this Facebook post.
Stern also hacked into my personal email account as well as hijacked my Twitter account, which he still has because Twitter does not care, even though I’ve made numerous reports to them.
Stern also hijacked this site before I managed to get it back through a password he left on my computer where I found an article he was about to publish threatening to take the site down if I dared fire him.
He has been fired but is still claiming on his social media pages to be executive director of PINAC, so that’s an ongoing issue that I eventually need to resolve. He is also in control of the PINAC News Group on Facebook after kicking me out, where he is claiming to have singlehandedly built the site and spearheaded the police accountability movement.
I filed a complaint with the FBI two months ago about all this, but they never got back to me, even after I made a followup call to ensure they received my complaint.
I am not sure if Stern is involved with the latest hack and I’ve been told the hackers are based in Pakistan, but I don’t know what to believe anymore.
All I know is that there are many people out there who have been trying their best to sabotage me because after ten years of running this site, I just want to sell it and move on.
After all, I’ve already proved my point that photography is not a crime. However, hacking is a crime, but nobody in charge seems to care.
Here is the entire conversation I had with Cristiano Patric before I lost the site. He has either blocked me or removed his Facebook page since this conversation.